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Death of the RTS genre?

Feb 19, 2009
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With the recent abysmal sales of even well produced RTS like Grey Goo, Planetary Annihilation, Homeworld Remakes, Homeworld: Desert of Kharak and more recently Ashes of the Singularity, it seems like there's aversion to the genre.

It used to be my fav genre. It was afterall one of THE MAJOR genre for defining PC gaming over consoles. Classics like Dune 2, Warcraft, Command and Conquer, Red Alert, TA etc just weren't playable on consoles.

I haven't played an RTS in awhile, so with the recent "revival attempt", I got Homeworld: DoK and Ashes of the Singularity to give them a chance, I've completed both and I think I understand why this genre has fallen out of grace.

There's nothing innovative. Same old, base building, send units here, there, watch the fight unfolds. Even DoK with it's "mothership" style a return to Homeworld, is again dull and suffers the "we've seen it all before".

The problem I think, is the genre doesn't really live or die based on the graphics fidelity. It's all about the gameplay. Case in point, Starcraft 1 and 2 are still very popular despite the first looking crap and the latter looking dated.

But what keeps SC it alive is the online competitive play. It's definitely got that fast paced, high-skill factor RTS PvP nailed down. The rest of the field has evolved into MOBAs and related games, where it's an RPG + squad RTS. Despite better AI, it's much more satisfying to play against another human when it comes to strategy focused games.

So gamers who enjoy these kind of games gravitate towards DOTA, LOL, Heroes of the Storm etc. It also does not help traditional RTS that these games are FREE.

Leaving no audience for traditional RTS PvP. Without a thriving online PvP scene, RTS will die fast because that's its longevity, not the brief linear campaigns that people beat quickly.

Is Kharak or Ashes worth $39? Heck no. It isn't even worth $19. Online play is dead, SP is short and skirmishes get boring real fast without that competitive PvP. I actually regretted the purchases for these, because if I wanted competitive online play, one of the other MOBAs actually is more fun and free.

Thinking about it, how would they make a proper large scale RTS that will be popular? Hard to see how it would be possible at all. Genre is dead... or rather, splintered and evolved.

Thoughts?
 

sandorski

No Lifer
Oct 10, 1999
68,363
3,485
126
Used to enjoy them, until I tried Multiplayer and realized how much I sucked at them. Against the AI I always succeeded, eventually anyway, but I played them more as Base Building than quick Military Unit spamming. So when I see how the good players play these games, I lose interest in the genre.

LoL and all those games are even worse with the spamming. I can see why people enjoy that, the constant on the edge of defeat until someone makes a mistake or does a brilliant move, but it has no appeal to me.
 

wahdangun

Golden Member
Feb 3, 2011
1,005
139
106
yeah it was all about game play, and to be honest, I'm really miss red alert type of game or CNC.
 

Elcs

Diamond Member
Apr 27, 2002
6,278
6
81
Relic were the last bastion of hope for the RTS industry... now we have MOBA or SC2, neither of which float my boat in a singleplayer or cooperative way.
 

BSim500

Golden Member
Jun 5, 2013
1,480
214
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A genre only truly dies when people stop playing, not when people stop buying distant sequels. Gamers and modders are still going strong with "old school" RTS's like Age of Empires 2, Age of Mythology, Rise of Nations, etc, along with related community modding sites (HeavenGames, etc).

There's nothing innovative. Same old, base building, send units here, there, watch the fight unfolds. Even DoK with it's "mothership" style a return to Homeworld, is again dull and suffers the "we've seen it all before".
This is true but keeping what works is exactly what many want and is ultimately what defines an RTS to many people. An RTS without base building is like an FPS without weapons - you simply end up with different sub-genres (MOBA / "walking simulators"). Innovation slowdown is also not that different to other genre's. Completely ignoring GFX, the difference between a primitive early 1990's FPS (Wolfenstein 3D) vs late 1990's / early 2000 (Deus Ex, Rainbow Six, Thief, Operation Flashpoint, etc) is orders of magnitudes more (going from 4MB RAM MS-DOS to DirectX7-9 in the space of what 6-10 years?) compared to the average 2006/2007 game vs modern FPS's. Even a lot of modern "open-world" stuff has become as generic and repetitive as hell once you remove the sparkly bits and obvious grind-padding.

Same with other genres : Racing games pretty much play the same, 2016 P&C adventure games play almost no different to 1992 stuff, but that's not a bad thing and many who tried to "innovate" with stuff like unwanted timed action stealth sequences, QTE's, etc, fell flat on their faces when they realized fans of the genre don't actually want much changed, just more great stories and fewer "moon logic" puzzles. RPG's are better in some areas, not so much in some others. Some "streamlined" stuff is welcome, other stuff dumbed down or an obvious compromise to fit onto a controller.

There's little innovation within the classical RTS's pretty much for the same reason there's generally little innovation in FPS's, RPG's, P&C Adventure's, etc. The 1995-2005 decade exploded with creativity and was about "feeling out" what gameplay / control system works the best for each genre, then when they found that, they matured and have since became about establishing "safe franchises" of every main genre along with "if it ain't broke, don't 'fix' it". Some of those games like Age of Empires got so many things right off the bat, all there was left to do is polish a few things, remove a few annoyances and add widescreen / compatibility patches. I see that (along with obviously enough demand to do modern "HD" re-releases) as the genre's strength / maturity / endurance, not a failing weakness.
 

Majes

Golden Member
Apr 8, 2008
1,163
148
106
The MOBA is the innovation of the RTS genre...
Warcraft Three, in my opinion, was the last RTS to really innovate, and because of the hero system they put in we now have MOBA games.

I've been hoping to see WoW die for a long time now because it's really the only hope we have to see a Warcraft 4... I doubt it happens. I've lost a lot of faith in Blizzard with how they bungled Diablo 3 and the junk they pulled with Starcraft 2. So even if we were to get something I doubt they would release anything good.

It really wouldn't be that difficult to combine a bit of base building with the MOBA style of play. I'd like to see a hybrid game come out from someone. Could be pretty fun, and would definitely be more of a challenge than your typical league or DOTA game...
 

Denithor

Diamond Member
Apr 11, 2004
6,300
23
81
There's little innovation within the classical RTS's pretty much for the same reason there's generally little innovation in FPS's, RPG's, P&C Adventure's, etc. The 1995-2005 decade exploded with creativity and was about "feeling out" what gameplay / control system works the best for each genre, then when they found that, they matured and have since became about establishing "safe franchises" of every main genre along with "if it ain't broke, don't 'fix' it".
I honestly think it's more an effect of the few surviving game companies (Activision/Blizzard, EA, etc) not being willing to dedicate resources to creating new IP. If they can simply polish an old turd a little more and sell millions more copies, why take the risk of developing something truly new that may utterly flop?

Indie studios are the only place to find innovation these days. Unfortunately they don't tend to have the resources properly develop their new ideas fully. Back in the 90's a fledgling studio with minimal cash and a few programmers could still crank out a pretty decent game. Today, with high res textures and 50GB of code, not so much.
 

clok1966

Golden Member
Jul 6, 2004
1,395
13
76
Check out Kohan (its on steam) there is the Original and Exp pack and Kohan II. It is the grandaddy of the COH games (IMHO). It uses groups of units, and you can customize them, (a bit like COH or DOW, but out before either of those). you get your BASE units (4) then can add 2 more units (same, or support) and a leader if you have one.. So say Heavy Calvary with 2 clerics to Heal them, or 2 wizards to DPS from range. Some units have bonus things, Rangers move faster through specific terrain,etc.. So unit make up really matters and needs to be changed on the fly sometime. All units gain EXP and skill. All units have stance, faster but less damage and so on. Cities are a bit like a stripped down CIV like deal. you have so many plots and can build specif things like walls to add more protection (from sieges) mage school (for mages, and also magical weapons). There are 4-5 different races, Humans, Cyean (undead/monsters), dwarfs etc.. all with there own unit types. And when you take over one of their cities you get to use them. Has a large campaign with an ok story.

I think its one of the unknown gems from the past and worth a look if you like RTS games. But sadly, if you play them all, no you wont really see something new, but its a mix that's not quite like any other (again COH or DOW are the closest).
 

Raduque

Lifer
Aug 22, 2004
13,134
135
106
I love RTS, and I can't stand MOBAs. I don't play multiplayer, because I'm not a competitive player. I like a storyline. That's why the Homeworld games were the pinnacle of the genre for me, they had great stories. It's also why I'm enjoying SC2. I'm sure I'll pick up Deserts of Kharak when it goes on sale, because I read the campaign is short.
 

Sabrewings

Golden Member
Jun 27, 2015
1,942
35
51
For me, the high point in RTS was SupCom. I haven't found anything I quite enjoyed like I did that when it came out.
 

DeathReborn

Platinum Member
Oct 11, 2005
2,329
232
106
A genre only truly dies when people stop playing, not when people stop buying distant sequels. Gamers and modders are still going strong with "old school" RTS's like Age of Empires 2, Age of Mythology, Rise of Nations, etc, along with related community modding sites (HeavenGames, etc).
I don't know if you saw it or not but Conan went to South Korea and the RTS of choice there (and across Asia pretty much) is still Starcraft 1. There is a market there but expecting GTA type sales is why the Genre isn't getting much love.

I love RTS, and I can't stand MOBAs. I don't play multiplayer, because I'm not a competitive player. I like a storyline. That's why the Homeworld games were the pinnacle of the genre for me, they had great stories. It's also why I'm enjoying SC2. I'm sure I'll pick up Deserts of Kharak when it goes on sale, because I read the campaign is short.
I am with you on the MOBA aspect & competitive play, I host a LAN party but we still just play RTS for the fun/story/camaraderie. The golden era of Red Alert, C&C, KKND, Dark Reign, Total Annihilation, Age of Empires & Homeworld still hold out over SC2 etc.
 

Elixer

Lifer
May 7, 2002
10,376
762
126
With the recent abysmal sales of even well produced RTS like Grey Goo, Planetary Annihilation, Homeworld Remakes, Homeworld: Desert of Kharak and more recently Ashes of the Singularity, it seems like there's aversion to the genre.
How are you getting sales info?
AFAIK, for Ashes of the Singularity:
http://forums.ashesofthesingularity.com/476724/page/1/#3630210
The good news: Ashes is a hit. Sales are excellent and the reviews are, so far, universally positive from reviewers.
They say they are excellent, yet, you say abysmal...

That said, I do agree that these current crop of RTS games are not anything like RTS games of years past.
I haven't tried Grey Goo, Homeworld Remakes or Homeworld: Desert of Kharak, but I have first hand experience with Planetary Annihilation and Ashes of the Singularity, and the first I got for $5, AotS was free, and they still left me with the feeling that these just aren't finished products at the time of launch. They are both pretty bland, and seem to like the "cartoony" type gfx of the units, but, worse than that, the game play just isn't there.
It is OK for once in a while, but they both got way too boring much too fast since they just made them into a 'who can build the most stuff' simulator the fastest.
They basically got no Campaign story, and nothing to pull you in to the game's atmosphere.
The AotS guys actually said, they didn't think people wanted that.

So, I am still waiting for the real RTS games to come back, and not these imposters.
 
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Insomniator

Diamond Member
Oct 23, 2002
6,288
171
106
They are too hard for the average person to play competitively. A 10 year old can pick up dota and right click his single 'hero' around the map killing things in a 1k mmr game.

Learning to build workers non-stop while micro-ing, macro-ing, expanding and building the right units/tech is... a lot more intimidating... and less fun when you are in stuck in bronze league Sc2.

I love SC2 and was in masters league in HOTS but its just too stressful to keep up. I can fuck around in a Dota game no problem (3800 MMR, trash tier but not THAT bad). Play a couple of Sc2 games however and my blood pressure goes up 400% win or lose.
 

moonbogg

Lifer
Jan 8, 2011
10,116
1,905
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They are too hard for the average person to play competitively. A 10 year old can pick up dota and right click his single 'hero' around the map killing things in a 1k mmr game.

Learning to build workers non-stop while micro-ing, macro-ing, expanding and building the right units/tech is... a lot more intimidating... and less fun when you are in stuck in bronze league Sc2.

I love SC2 and was in masters league in HOTS but its just too stressful to keep up. I can fuck around in a Dota game no problem (3800 MMR, trash tier but not THAT bad). Play a couple of Sc2 games however and my blood pressure goes up 400% win or lose.
I know what that intense adrenaline feeling is like. I used to have that feeling while playing C&C and I get it when sniping in BF4. Sometimes its just too much. I have to be in a competitive mood or else its just an uncomfortable and exhausting experience.
Regarding RTS dying, it just sort of happened when I wasn't paying attention it seems. I was dying for C&C generals to come out with a sequel. I waited forever, but it never happened. I can't figure it out. I loved the RTS genre.
The one down side for me is that I don't have the time to master the learning curve like I used to have, or I don't have the motivation for it.
I don't want to spend hours and hours learning how to play just to beat some stupid 14 year old kid who happens to be up past his bed time.
I can't believe how hard act of aggression flopped. That's sad I think. People cheered the game and people wanted it so bad, the it came and no one plays it. I went to buy it but checked out the online community and it was dead on arrival. I was disappointed and sad, but I won't buy an RTS game that no one plays. I need to feel like there is a future for the game if I will even consider invensting time into it.
 

Red Storm

Lifer
Oct 2, 2005
14,207
216
106
I enjoy playing RTS games either single player or with friends. Never was into competitive multiplayer RTS, too stressful. However, I really enjoy watching pros play StarCraft 2. It's fun to watch these guys with their crazy APM and knowledge of the game duke it out.
 

BoberFett

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
37,563
9
81
Used to enjoy them, until I tried Multiplayer and realized how much I sucked at them. Against the AI I always succeeded, eventually anyway, but I played them more as Base Building than quick Military Unit spamming. So when I see how the good players play these games, I lose interest in the genre.

LoL and all those games are even worse with the spamming. I can see why people enjoy that, the constant on the edge of defeat until someone makes a mistake or does a brilliant move, but it has no appeal to me.
110% this.
 

Sonikku

Lifer
Jun 23, 2005
15,648
4,254
136
Going up against the South Koreans in RTS is freakin' brutal. I hear the speed at which they play Starcraft at is positively grueling.
 

Ricochet

Diamond Member
Oct 31, 1999
6,406
20
81
I enjoy playing RTS games either single player or with friends. Never was into competitive multiplayer RTS, too stressful. However, I really enjoy watching pros play StarCraft 2. It's fun to watch these guys with their crazy APM and knowledge of the game duke it out.
I use to play Starcraft 1 all the time but that was when I was much younger and my reaction timing, twitch control, and multitasking were far better than what it is today. I could actually play competitive multiplayer with pretty high win ratio. By the time SC2 came out I couldn't do it again. Multiplayer become too stressful and I couldn't even muster average much less compete.

I found myself enjoying the Relic RTS more, particularly the Warhammer 40k series. The squad base play mechanic is a refreshing change from SC. Of course I would only play campaign or skirmishes vs CPUs.
 

ImpulsE69

Lifer
Jan 8, 2010
14,793
825
126
I don't know, I'm kind of excited for Battlefleet Gothic: Armada. Probably doesn't bring a whole lot new to the table, but looks fun.

But yea, I suck at these games too. I was decent at W2 and SC1, but I sucked at SC2 and haven't really played any others since.
 

moonbogg

Lifer
Jan 8, 2011
10,116
1,905
126
I was good at C&C Tiberian Sun. Games were fast and intense and lasted about 5 minutes. That was my golden era for RTS. Generals took over later and was some of the most fun I've ever had playing an RTS, but it was less competitive and more about enjoying the game. Building huge bases, getting rich and establishing a MASSIVE fleet of Aurora Bombers was the best damn thing ever.
I could send group after group after group non stop. By the time the first wave came back, the second was on the way and by the time they got back the first was reloaded/rebuilt and ready to go. Endless slaughter. I used them to destroy the enemies insanely huge arsenal of nukes. They thought they had way too many for me to counter...yeah they were wrong.
Those days are gone forever. Not only for me, but for everyone else. I got to experience a true golden era in the PC entertainment world, right at its peak. It will never be the same again, ever. Good things will come but it won't be new like that. It won't have the same exciting appeal, maybe not for another 100 years actually until something fundamentally different emerges.
 

Zanovar

Diamond Member
Jan 21, 2011
3,446
231
106
Rts has always been my fave genre.Although my love and exctement for these games has waned over the years i still buy them.Looking forward to Totalwar Warhammer.
 
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