I Want That Old Time RTS

29 06 2009

I love real time strategy (RTS) games. I love the thrill of building up an impregnable fortress; watching your villagers expand your economy, attacking an enemy with a well rounded army. Those are the things I crave in an RTS. When I was young, I constantly played games like Age of Empires II, Starcraft and Rise of Nations (I still play them today), as well as Empire Earth, Command and Conquer, Homeworld, and Age of Mythology. Those games define the “classic” era of RTS games. Nowadays, the classic RTS games are impossibly hard to find. It seems that the industry has hit a slump. Sure, there are some bright spots (like Sins of a Solar Empire), but overall there are very few RTS games on the market. How did the RTS market come to this? How did a flourishing genre suddenly grind to a halt? The answers are very unsettling.

Before we dive into the story of the real time strategy game, I would first like to bring those who have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about up to speed. The concept of Real Time Strategy is actually very simple. The RT of Real Time Strategy consists of Real and Time, which means that the entire game happens in real time; enemies, allies, and you all play at the same time, there are no turns like the Civilization and Total War games. I’m not saying that turn based games are bad, but I find the RTS genre more appealing. The S of Real Time Strategy is Strategy, which means that you actually have to think while you are playing. The basic template of a RTS is you have your town center which produce villagers. Villagers can construct buildings or collect different resources which are needed to create buildings and units. The normal three resources are food, wood, and stone. Depending on the time period, some games also add other resources such as oil. You have three basic types of military units; infantry, cavalry, and archers. They use a rock paper scissors like system; archers can kill infantry easily, infantry can cut down cavalry, and cavalry can decimate archers. There are usually multiple ages, and with each age comes new units and unit upgrades, new and improved buildings, and more advanced technology. And that is your basic RTS.

For years RTS after RTS changed up the formula for an RTS game a little bit to make each game different and enjoyable in their own right, but not so different that someone who has played an RTS game before would have a difficult time adjusting to the different gameplay. Soon, games like Rome Total War took elements of the RTS genre and the turn based strategy genre and blended them together, and this was all fine. But soon, companies were trying to fit a full RTS on a console with a controller instead of a PC and a mouse. This was a horrible mistake, and soon extremely simple RTS games for consoles disgraced the RTS name. Gamers decided that rather than thinking during a video game, they just wanted to kill people mindlessly. The RTS market was all but destroyed by the FPS (First Person Shooter) and TPS (Third Person Shooter) genre(s). And then, the RTS genre suffered it’s biggest blow; Ensemble Studios, the makers of the Age of Empires and Age of Mythology series closed it’s doors. It seems like the era of RTS games is over.

So I sit here in anguish, distraught that my favorite genre is on it’s last legs. The RTS game is slowly withering away.  A genre that prided itself on strategy and superior thinking is dying because of our increasing laziness. Instead of thinking, we just want to run and shoot. And with the RTS, so goes the pride of intellectual gamers.

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2 responses

5 06 2010
MrRoboto

Couldn’t agree nore. I recently started playing AoE online again via Game Ranger… you should check it out.

3 12 2010
Cold Remedies

when it comes to video games, i enjoy playing those that have very nice graphics and story like Plantz and Zombies ~'”

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