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Developing An RTS For The 360

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the middle-earth-never-looked-so-shiny dept.

XBox (Games) 35

Gamasutra is running an interesting piece entitled The Battle for Console Earth. Louis Castle of EA describes the process of making an RTS title for the Xbox 360 console. From the article: "Castle's approach to the Xbox 360 version of The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-Earth II was to approach the RTS genre as if it were never on the personal computer. Let's go back to the beginning. Let's look at these strategy games, as if they were new. How would we approach it now? Let's pretend that there never was a mouse, and all we had were consoles. How would we bring this about?"

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Remake Starcraft (1, Funny)

csscmaster3 (837887) | more than 8 years ago | (#14467709)

They should just release starcraft onto the 360...they did it with N64....starcraft is fun....hey...wtf...ahhh f*king zerglings............

Re:Remake Starcraft (1)

linds.r (895980) | more than 8 years ago | (#14467737)

Let's pretend that there never was a mouse, and all we had were consoles. How would we bring this about?
Just dumb it the hell down and remove all the dynamism of control gained by having fast precise mouse/keyboard input, never stopped you before. I mean, look what it did to the parent.

Re:Remake Starcraft (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470232)

Perhaps it'd force Blizzard to make a GUI that doesn't suck.

Huh, What?! (0, Flamebait)

imstanny (722685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14467828)

Let's pretend that there never was a mouse, and all we had were consoles. How would we bring this about?

The reason RTS is successful on the PC is because of the functionality gained by having a keyboard & mouse. Porting RTS to a much simpler control design will yeild either a different game or a different gaming experience.

Using current controllers for RTS is like proposing to type a book using a cell phone's text messaging feature; yes you can type on it, but why the hell would you want to?

Re:Huh, What?! (3, Insightful)

Dysproxia (584031) | more than 8 years ago | (#14467923)

Wow, you pasted something from the summary without even reading it. He's talking about designing a different kind of RTS that fits a joypad.

Re:Huh, What?! (1)

Jarlsberg (643324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468315)

Heh. I was just going to post the same thing. And he's got an insightful mod. :D

Re:Huh, What?! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468457)

Wow, you pasted something from the summary without even reading it. He's talking about designing a different kind of RTS that fits a joypad.

That's one way to put it. Another way to put it is that he's not saying anything at all:

Castle is remaining tight-lipped in regards to what this re-imagined control scheme actually entails. "The core innovative ideas, I can tell you, are at once tremendously simple and easily replicated, so I think that once we've proven that this is a viable approach - which we have, through focus tests and such - I'd imagine we'll have a lot of imitators."

So let's get this straight; it's a port. They say as much in the article (while also saying it isn't one, but this game is not a quantum event, so it cannot have more than one state.) It has a highly different control interface, maybe. If you can believe it without any evidence. I mean, they don't tell you ANYTHING about the new control scheme except that you can do everything you do on the PC version.

Now, maybe I'm just short on imagination, but I've never been accused of that before... And I can't see what could be more intuitive than using the mouse. I can do without keyboard interfaces if mouse interfaces are good enough (though they seldom are) but doing without the mouse? Just being able to lasso a bunch of units with it is worth having a mouse.

Finally, there are already games for Xbox 360 and PS2 that support USB keyboards, and I believe one Xbox 360 game has announced that it will support a USB mouse as well. So why go through all this rigamarole? Just support the mouse, and let me use it. A USB mouse is like two bucks now, and an optical one maybe ten. A GOOD USB optical mouse will run you about $15 or $20.

Re:Huh, What?! (1)

Supurcell (834022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14469129)

And how are you supposed to play this bastard child of the PC control scheme and the Xbox, hunched over your coffee table?

TV tray (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14471710)

Put your keyboard and mouse on a TV dinner tray. Would that work?

Re:Huh, What?! (1)

cluke (30394) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477635)

Finally, there are already games for Xbox 360 and PS2 that support USB keyboards

That always cracks me up, when I read that console FPS games support USB keyboards and mice. It's the keyboard part of it - it amuses me to think of people plugging in these relatively expensive input devices just so they can use the WASD keys. Talk about redundant... Maybe some enterprising company could make a mini-keyboard consisting of just these four keys? ;-)

Re:Huh, What?! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14491482)

Most of the games which support USB keyboards have a heavy chat component. You need at least all the alphanumeric keys and punctuation... that's one hell of a controller. Someone or other once made a controller for phantasy star or final fantasy online or something that's a PS2-style controller split in half with a keyboard in the middle...

Re:Huh, What?! (1)

obeythefist (719316) | more than 8 years ago | (#14487750)

Yeah, I bought an XBox and use it as a HTPC for streaming media and stuff. For a joke I got some games and played them, and it's remarkable just how little you can do with a controller.

The keyboard and mouse is ubiquitous - whether Mac, Linux or Windows it works the same way (although the Apple mouse does very little without a keyboard to replicate the functionality of the right mouse button, flame away Mac users). Console controllers are all different! They use wacky combinations of buttons and analog sticks and D-pads. Game developers often don't bother following conventions with the controllers even on the same consoles, either.

One thing is for sure - the console controllers just don't give the same degree of control as the good old kb+mouse combo.

Like the parent said - we don't have much in the way of FPS or RTS on consoles in the same way that we don't have a lot of word processors and PDF writers for mobile phones. The device simply isn't designed or fit for purpose. (Admittedly, FPS's do work on consoles but almost always require an auto-aim feature, and do not compare favourably to FPS on a PC).

Re:Huh, What?! (1)

JonathanBoyd (644397) | more than 8 years ago | (#14493693)

You're a little behind the times. My Apple mouse [apple.com] can left-click, right-click, middle-click, 4th-burttn-click, scroll vertically and scroll horizontally.

Wasted space (3, Funny)

evil-osm (203438) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468013)

Let's pretend that there never was a mouse, and all we had were consoles.

My god! Imagine the the amount of deskspace you'd need then!

Forget the 360 (1)

Supurcell (834022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468076)

I want to see an RTS for the Nintendo DS. It has a near perfect interface for one already. A joystick just isn't fast and precise enough to command an entire army and deal with multiple tasks at once(like fighting a war on two fronts). The stylus can mimic a mouse very well, all you would really be missing are hotkeys.

Re:Forget the 360 (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468100)

all you would really be missing are hotkeys.

I hear the DS has some buttons, too. :D

Re:Forget the 360 (2, Interesting)

Sparkio (944072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468235)

IGN did an interview a week or so ago about Age of Empires for the DS: http://ds.ign.com/articles/679/679458p1.html [ign.com] Still listed in the RTS genre, though from the read it's less real-time and more turn-based.

Re:Forget the 360 (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468266)

For that matter, the revolution. A 3D pointing device would work as well as a mouse.

Re:Forget the 360 (1)

Psykus (827143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468815)

It wouldn't even have to be 3D in order to work correctly. You can design your game so the Revolution controller acts as a "laser pointer" of sorts, so you could control an on screen cursor. The underside of the controller has two triggers, so you could use those like the left and right mouse buttons. The "nunchaku" attachment (the thing with an analog stick and two triggers) wouldn't even be needed, you could play the game one-handed.

Re:Forget the 360 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468730)

Black & White DS is coming to the DS. It's not B&W or B&W2 but a new version of the game, but still retains the RTS gameplay and looks to heavily use the stylus for the control.

I'd post a link but I am at work, and I'm too lazy/jaded. Check the regular gaming websites or even Lionhead Studios site.

Re:Forget the 360 (1)

failrate (583914) | more than 8 years ago | (#14469921)

You're right. In fact, the stylus might even be faster and more precise than the mouse, since you can just jab the pointer directly on the unit to select it, etc., as opposed to *dragging* the mouse over to the unit.

RTS on a console? Man, that's _never_ happened (3, Informative)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468211)

Let's go back to the beginning. Let's look at these strategy games, as if they were new. How would we approach it now? Let's pretend that there never was a mouse, and all we had were consoles. How would we bring this about?

Like Herzog Zwei [classicgaming.com] , maybe? Oh, for the times when game journalists had a memory that went back before the current generation of consoles...

Rob

Re:RTS on a console? Man, that's _never_ happened (1)

scot4875 (542869) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468795)

I'll second that. Herzog Zwei was the first thing that popped into my mind when reading the summary. Someone else has already mentioned StarCraft 64 as well.

It's a pretty sad state when the current game houses have so little historical perspective on their own industry that they have to keep reinventing things -- and then, even better, call it 'innovation.'

--Jeremy

Re:RTS on a console? Man, that's _never_ happened (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 8 years ago | (#14469120)

I remember playing Dune II, widely considered the first true RTS, on my Sega Genesis. The control would have been better with a mouse, but it worked.

If you had RTFA... (1)

Nicolay77 (258497) | more than 8 years ago | (#14469227)

First paragraph:

Louis Castle is the Vice President of Creative Development at EA Los Angeles, where he provides creative input on a number of popular franchises, including Medal of Honor, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, Lord of the Rings, and Command & Conquer, the series he helped create over a decade ago at Las Vegas-based Westwood Studios, which he co-founded in 1985.

Re:RTS on a console? Man, that's _never_ happened (1)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14472141)

I thought of both Dune 2 and StarCraft 64, but it seemed to me that the author was referring to games specifically made for the console, and Herzog Zwei is the only one that fits that bill. Dune 2 was excellently ported, though, and there was another fine port of an RTS on the Genesis; Tyrants, better known as Mega lo Mania [mobygames.com] on the PC.

Rob

Canon Fodder! (1)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470011)

Although originally an Amiga game, the SNES release of Canon Fodder worked really well, and was bloody good fun. Of course, it did have the option of a mouse for input, which didn't hurt at all. SNES mouse, wooo!

Re:RTS on a console? Man, that's _never_ happened (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470374)

Fun link that makes this thread even more entertaining: http://www.above-the-garage.com/rblts/vie16b.htm [above-the-garage.com]

Herzog Drei? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14471698)

Like Herzog Zwei, maybe?

Was there ever a sequel to that?

Goblin Commander (1)

ostermei (832410) | more than 8 years ago | (#14479977)

Don't forget Goblin Commander [gamespot.com] . While you're correct in bringing up Herzog Zwei, Goblin Commander is the only RTS I can think of that was built specifically for current-gen systems, thus using a controller much closer to the 360's than the Genesis controller of Herzog Zwei. I'm thinking GC would give a closer idea of what to expect from this.

Thats like saying... (2, Funny)

voxel (70407) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468285)

"No mouse, keyboard or desk"...

That's like saying lets pretend the user is mentally challenged and only has one arm.

Designers: Ready... Set... Go!

Learn from the past, maybe? (2, Insightful)

Rapter09 (866502) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468600)

I don't quite understand how a mouse existing or not existing effects the design of a console RTS, unless you're considering implementing PnP mouse for the 360 in the coding? You're designing it for a controller, so exactly how would a mouse factor into any of this? Same with the genre of RTS in general. If you're imagining the genre never existed, then you're essentially just *recreating* the genre in ignorance? I love how they say "What made Lord of the Rings a great series of films was just as much about the actual human actors, the sense of heroism, as much as it was a spectacle of graphics and fantasy and all, and it all came from the literature". Like the books never existed, I suppose.

Re:Learn from the past, maybe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14469335)

The game is a port of the PC version. The PC version uses a mouse.

from the except-on-the-pc dept. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468680)

'nuff said.

Battlezone (2, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 8 years ago | (#14474815)

There is no need to imagine, since someone else already did. Go look up the old PC game "BattleZone" and its sequel. Especially the sequel shows how its done: the commander doesn't say "attack enemy base", he says "follow me" and charges the base himself.

Of course a more cowardly/wise commander may sneak near the base and mark targets for ballistic bombard, or simply order his troops around from the command bunker. But a real man will lead the charge himself ;).

And the whole thing doesn't need mouse for anything but aiming. A hierarchical menu behind the function keys is used to command units. Newer consoles have easily enough buttons for this to work.

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