I am converging on a working RTS engine whose architecture I’m quite happy with. The AI system still needs a little work, probably involving a simple C++ superset language to handle the bullshit necessary for the setup I’m seeing, but since I value readability/learnability nowadays, I’ll see if I can come up with one that doesn’t require such mangling. Anyway, the only supported bit of the engine right now is the standard RTS unit-based style, but the time will soon come that I’ll want to implement the other factions. Before I do that, I have to figure out what they are.
The first alternative faction that Namaste and I have discussed is a “plant” faction which has only buildings and spreads its influence using the wind, roots, and other implicit methods. The play style of that faction will probably end up being something more discrete-feeling. There could be plants which are very lethal and very hard to destroy, but since they are immobile it may not be unbalanced. Instead, the game would be about trapping your enemy and closing on them, rather than organizing an army for a tactical strike. The challenging thing would be using the wind to spread: you would have to wait for the right wind direction, and even then you would only have a vague idea where the building would grow. More generally, a building’s power could be inversely proportional to the control you have in placing it.
Another faction that we’ve talked about is one inspired by nanomachines. This faction’s units would behave normally, except at any time they could convert themselves into something of equal resource value. That is, your entire base could just be a field of resource collectors, and when there was an attack you could convert them into a big army of infantry. I would like to balance this faction in some other way than just making them weaker to compensate; instead I would like to manifest a different play style like there is for the plants. Nothing is immediately coming to mind.
I just had two more ideas as I was watching Star Trek TNG today. The first is a faction that can only communicate by contact, which would involve that kind of long-term planning strategy that i wanted with my relativistic strategy game (which I abandoned due to the complexity of programming with a frame-of-reference-centric world). The second is a faction that could project non-reality onto its opponents, not necessarily chaning the play style for that faction, but changing it for its opponents (which is especially good to challenge those who get really good at just one strategy). The game for the opponents would be about decoding the difference between reality and fantasy; it would be about recon and checking for information consistency. I’m quite excited by this one, even though it would be a challenge to balance.
That’s all for now. I just wanted to jot these down.