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Real-Time Strategy Games - Too Many Clicks?

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the clicky-click dept.

174

simoniker writes "A new Gamasutra article asks provocatively in its synopsis: 'Could games like Civilization benefit from putting their interfaces on a diet? Can a player control too many objects at once in a strategy game?' Are RTS titles too UI-intensive? The author notes: 'Even for a Civ addict like me, the game isn't much fun after about 1800. Too many clicks. I counted the clicks, mouse movements, and keystrokes that it took me to get through one move of Civilization III in the year 1848. Many hours later, when that turn was done, I'd counted 422 mouse clicks, 352 mouse movements, 290 key presses, 23 wheel scrolls, and 18 screen pans to scroll the screen.'"

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Automation (4, Interesting)

Iamthefallen (523816) | about 8 years ago | (#15969050)

From TFA:
I was attempting to construct a railway line connecting the north end to the south end of my civilization.
[Snip] ...
I needed to assign about a hundred workers to building the railway line in order to get it built before being overrun. For each worker, I had to click on it once to bring it into focus; then type 'g' to begin a movement, scroll to its starting point on the railway line, and click again. Later, when it reached that point, I would have to type "ctrl-r" to build a railroad, scroll to the end of that unit's portion of the railway, and click again. That's three mouse movements, three keystrokes, and three mouse clicks per unit. I tried to keep the workers in groups of three, although this was possible only about half the time. So it probably took me 600 clicks, keystrokes, and scrolls to build that railway.

Imagine if I'd been able to say that I wanted to build a railroad, click on its start, and click on its end. The computer would then have directed workers, as they became available, to work on sections of the railway. The entire railroad could have been constructed with the same amount of supervision that it took me to direct one worker.


Yeah, imagine that, it's called Civ4. You can direct one worker to build it, you can direct a dozen.

But again we go to TFA:
You may wonder why I'm talking about Civ III, when Civ IV has been out for months. I never bought Civ IV. I'd been waiting and hoping for a more playable Civ. What finally arrived was a Civ that takes just as many clicks, but with a new animated 3D UI.

Yeah...

In CIv4 you can automate most actions and take a hands-off approach and focus on the general direction of your empire. More and more I play my games by automating construction in my non-critical cities, I let workers build improvements automatically, I make choices as to what crucial structures will be built where, but the mundane, repetitive clicking can be mostly done away with.

Point is, the choice to make detail decisions is entirely yours. I don't think it's a UI problem when you choose to build dozens of cities, hundereds of units, and then micro-manage them all. Especially when the UI of the game in question (CIV III) is several years old. Imagine that, UIs evolve!

What's next, a 6 page article on powertoys for Windows 95 and why they don't increase productivity?

Re:Automation (2, Insightful)

bateleur (814657) | about 8 years ago | (#15969116)

Whilst I mostly agree with your comments here, Civ 4 still encourages an awful lot of micromanagement if you're trying to beat the game's higher levels.

This is not necessarily bad, though. Some people like to micromanage for hours on end. It seems to me that Philip Goetz - despite writing six pages and appending weighty academic references at the end of his piece - is mostly just complaining that he doesn't like this particular style of game.

Re:Automation (1)

Alpha Soixante-Neuf (813971) | about 8 years ago | (#15969196)

IMO Civ 4 went a long way to helping people who don't like the mm side of turn based strategy games (note not real-time, how that slides by whoever's in charge up there is beyond me). If you want to beat the game playing on Prince/Emperor or higher you're gonna need to keep control over everything to exploit your intelligence vs. the AI's overall bonuses, but if that stuff bores you, then play at a lower difficulty and you can automate away and focus on the parts you enjoy. IMO the automation still needs more work. It could use general worker strategy options, like cottage spam or city specific strategies that you could click on and the citizen automation sucks too, but if you're playing any of the lower difficulties you can still automate and enjoy the parts of a strategy game that you signed up for. Also, based on the direction they've gone with this series specifically, I think the developers are already pretty aware of how much this can turn off some gamers and are already trying to fix the problem without alienating those who enjoy the micromanagement aspects of these games. I'd much rather complain about how these companies still think it's okay to ship products that are not ready and let their consumers wait for 2-3 or more patches before a significant minority can even play the game in the first place.

Re:Automation (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 8 years ago | (#15969271)

Can't say I've played the Civilization series, but perhaps the author's problem was picking an extreme of the genre.

The other RTS I've played (age of empires and mythology) are much more intuitive. Select worker, select building, click somewhere to build. If you want to add more, drag over an area of workers (or double-click for all visible), then right click on the building. If it's already built, they'll do whatever that building does when you click.

Re:Automation (1)

keesh (202812) | about 8 years ago | (#15969333)

Building lots of cities and micromanaging is the only way to win. It's the same in CivIII, CivIV and Alpha Centauri. Whilst letting the computer handle things is passable if you're on super-easy difficulty, it's nowhere near good enough to get an impressive victory.

Re:Automation (1)

Iamthefallen (523816) | about 8 years ago | (#15969418)

But then...that's a choice you make. The game isn't making you play that way. If you choose a higher difficulty, why shouldn't it be, well, more difficult and require you to take more control?

Re:Automation (1)

Control Group (105494) | about 8 years ago | (#15969877)

Building lots of cities and micromanaging is the only way to win. It's the same in CivIII, CivIV and Alpha Centauri

Actually, no, it isn't. The proper strategy for Civ3 was certainly endless city spawning (and SMAC might be the same; I've never played it), but the support cost structure in Civ4 prevents you from winning that way. One of the fastest ways to lose an empire is to keep taking barb cities instead of razing them. On a normal-size map, I've found the ideal number of cities to be right around six (depending on which Civ you are, what the resources around you look like, etc.)

Re:Automation (1)

Keebler71 (520908) | about 8 years ago | (#15969386)

I am a Civ 3 addict who also hasn't made the move to Civ 4 yet. I bought it and gave it a couple hours - but found the graphics got in the way of the gameplay (where have we heard that before) so I went back to Civ 3. As for worker automation in Civ 3, I usually use the keyboard shortcuts that let me put the workers in auto mode. Yes, they use the same logic as the computer AI (which isn't that bright) but you can mitigate this by using the constrained forms of the automation commmand: (from the shortcut reference [civfanatics.com] )

Unit Commands - Workers (v1.17f)

  • Automate A
  • Automate, keep existing improvements Shift-A *** Very useful!!!
  • Automate, improve nearest city only Shift-I ***
  • Automate, nearest city & keep existing Ctrl-Shift-I ***
  • Automate, clear forests only Shift-F
  • Automate, clear jungle only Shift-J ***
  • Automate, clean up pollution only Shift-P ***
  • Build Road to square, then Colony Ctrl-B
  • Build Road to selected square Ctrl-R ***
  • Build Railroad to selected square Ctrl-Shift-R
  • Build Trade Network Ctrl-N ***
  • Irrigate to nearest city Ctrl-I ***
The ones with asterisks give you much finer control over the worker actions than the normal "a" key. I can't stand the AI's tendency to replace existing improvements so those marked with *** are really crucial. So its a trade-off between optimizing efficiency of movemement and reducing the micromanagement. For what it is worth, I leave about 1/3 of my workers in manual mode which usually means I have at least 5 workers or so idle at the beginning of each turn and availble for my bidding without interrupting their current work.

I usually have about 30 workers or so until right before the industrial age. About 10-20 turns before I get railroad I divert all my attention to building workers so I have 60-100 by the first turn I have railroad and use them to connect all my cities. Once every square has railroads, I'll use the excess workers to form human barriers at chokepoints or absorb them into the smaller cities but I keep 20-30 or so around for pollution clean-up duty.

Re:Automation (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 8 years ago | (#15969403)

I played a demo of an rts 5 years back, I think it was Warzone 2100. It had a lot of features to cut down on the amount of clicking and moving you had to do. You could set up "programs" of what you wanted to build, and it would build it. You could tell it to build 3 infantry, then a tank, then 2 humvees, and then some other stuff, and it would continually repeat that loop. I find that the biggest problem with RTS games is that you have to constant go back and forth to your base, building stuff, all same time trying to fight a war. Oh, and the other thing that bothers me, is not being able to select enough units. Many games are limited to 12 or something stupid like that. I want to be able to select 100 units and group them if I so choose.

Another feature that would work well for RTS is to have 2 or more people working on the same team (online obviously). Not 2 separate teams who happen to work together, but the same team where they can both control the same units. That way, you could have one guy in control of guarding the base, while the other guy fights the battle, and maybe a third person to go off on scouting missions.

Re:Automation (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#15969474)

When I see a selection limit in an RTS I immediately conclude that whoever designed that interface was a retard. I mean, WHY? Command and fucking Conquer allowed selecting as many units as you want, why do modern RTSes want to restrict that? Want to turn it into a game of who-can-click-faster or what?

Any game with an interface worse than Spring [clan-sy.com] needs to have its GUI developers put through a collective beating.

Re:Automation (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 8 years ago | (#15969536)

This is exactly why it makes me so mad that you can't select as many units as you want. C&C was the first RTS I played, and frankly i think that modern RTSs could learn a lot from it. Not only could you select as many units as you wanted, but there was many other good features. You only had 1 resource to collect. After playing Warcraft 2, and having to manage 3 different resources, you didn't have time to do any actual fighting or exploring. I met some people who thought that starcraft was the best game ever, so I tried it out, but you could only select 12 units. Heaven forbid you wanted to move 13 units accross the map. Also was the problem with having to continually upgrade the buildings. You never knew which ones needed to be upgraded and when. you had to click on every one of them to find out when to upgrade. It's like playing Simcity and an RTS at the same time. I still think that C&C is one of the best, because it doesn't try to load you up with tons of stuff that make the game less fun.

Re:Automation (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#15969628)

C&C still has its shortcomings like the monolithic build system (want to have two factories? too bad) and the harvesters needing attention to prevent them from running into enemy defenses. Of course it's easier to control than any Blizzard RTS but Blizzard seems to intentionally cripple their games for some insane reason. The bigger issue is that I'm seeing B's bad ideas pop up in other games (Act of War has a 30 unit selection limit, for example). If I wanted to do everything myself I'd play Quake 3 Arena, not an RTS.

Re:Automation (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 8 years ago | (#15969855)

I specifically remember that you could have 2 factories, and 2 barracks, or any number thereof. And when you built the extra one, it would build units twice as fast. It's really fun to build 3 or 4 barracks, and watch the units just appear in a second.

Re:Automation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969794)

Having played both the C&C games and Starcraft extensively I can say that SC is by far the more "strategic" of the two. C&C might have had good storylines and a very straightforward UI, but its multiplayer component was linear as hell. Tank rush ftw. That's the reason why SC had special units, upgrades and limits on the number of units that could be selected or built.

Re:Automation (1)

init100 (915886) | about 8 years ago | (#15969572)

Yeah, imagine that, it's called Civ4. You can direct one worker to build it, you can direct a dozen.

I really liked how the problem was solved in Civilization: Call To Power. In this game, tile improvements were built with a tax on shield production. The tax collected "Public Works" credits that could subsequently be used to build tile improvements or perform terraforming. Each improvement had its own cost, and took a specific amount of time to build. I could e.g. select "Advanced mines" and click on each tile where I wanted such a mine, given I had the required PW credits. No units had to be created to do this. There was also a Capitalization-style build project called "Infrastructure", that would convert the entire shield output of a city into PW credits.

Re:Automation (1)

xtracto (837672) | about 8 years ago | (#15970464)

From TFA:
I was attempting to construct a railway line connecting the north end to the south end of my civilization.
[Snip] ...
I needed to assign about a hundred workers to building the railway line in order to get it built before being overrun. For each worker, I had to click on it once to bring it into focus; then type 'g' to begin a movement, scroll to its starting point on... [blah][blah][blah]


Well, lets see if this guy is whining about too many clicks, I've got the solution:

~

then:


    Worker works= new[100] Worker(); [INTRO]
    Railway r = new railway.new(workers); [INTRO]
    foreach (Worker w in works) ; [INTRO]
    { [INTRO]
      w.setFocus(); [INTRO]
      w.setAction(Construct(r)); [INTRO]
    } [INTRO]


There ya go, hth.

p.s. Sorry for the sloppy JavaC++# script =oP

That's why... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 8 years ago | (#15969081)

...I still play Total Annihilation. The interface is simple and easy (although there are many, many multiplayer commands you should learn). I think I typically count 2 mouse clicks to launch an attack, maybe a click and a keystroke, and rarely will I exceed 200 mouse clicks in a single skirmish.

Re:That's why... (1)

fitten (521191) | about 8 years ago | (#15969340)

Me too. TA has a great interface but even it could be a little better... for example, I'd like that no unit in a group move faster than the slowest one, that way you could make combined unit forces all stay together as they travel across the map for an attack, instead of getting strung out and chewed up piecemeal.

Re:That's why... (1)

LiquidRaptor (125282) | about 8 years ago | (#15969487)

Select all the units and hit G for gaurd, then click on the slowest unit. Then tell the slowest unit to go attack, that way they all stay together.

Re:That's why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969899)

That is very useful, although it seems backwards: To attack, you have to guard? I'll have to try that later. Thanks.

Re:That's why... (1)

Proud like a god (656928) | about 8 years ago | (#15969999)

I hope you know that the creator of Total Annihilation, Chris Taylor, is making the unofficial sequel, Supreme Commander [supremecommander.com] . It's said to be feature complete and due out very early 2007.

Another subject not decsribing the message (0)

Klaidas (981300) | about 8 years ago | (#15969103)

You should better count your legs/head/hand/fingers movement when you go shopping.
When you get the number, maybe using a PC won't be so bad at all.

Civ != RTS (3, Insightful)

beavis88 (25983) | about 8 years ago | (#15969104)

Sorry. It's just not.

But, Civ 4 is a lot better than Civ 3 in terms of opportunites for less clicking and scrolling. I really don't see the point in bitching about the interface of a ~5 year old game...

Civ != RTS Vista. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969803)

"But, Civ 4 is a lot better than Civ 3 in terms of opportunites for less clicking and scrolling. I really don't see the point in bitching about the interface of a ~5 year old game..."

Yeah. Let's bitch about something that's still in beta.

Re:Civ != RTS Vista. (1)

beavis88 (25983) | about 8 years ago | (#15970140)

Beta? Civ 4 has been out for nearly a year, at least where I live...

Let's get something straight. (5, Informative)

Digitus1337 (671442) | about 8 years ago | (#15969109)

Civilization is not a Real Time Strategy game, it is a 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate) Turn Based Strategy game. Turn Based games like Civ do tend to have a lot more micro-management than RTS titles, but either does require quite a bit of mouse work. That said, is there any viable alternative?

Re:Let's get something straight. (5, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 8 years ago | (#15969282)

>> Civilization... is a 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate) Turn Based Strategy game

Actually, I think it's an eX-employee, eX-girlfriend, eX-hausted from no sleep, and eX-iled to the basement until you take a bath, Turn Based Strategy game.

Re:Let's get something straight. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969506)

Re:Let's get something straight. (1)

the real chahn (727189) | about 8 years ago | (#15969421)

That said, is there any viable alternative?

Generally, nethack doesn't require too much mouse movement.

Re:Let's get something straight. (2, Insightful)

Rhys (96510) | about 8 years ago | (#15969543)

Yes. Work like you don't have to own a frikkin mouse.

The old civ 1 used the keyboard much better than most of the recent civs. Heck, you could play the whole game using only the keyboard, and I usually did. (it was faster than the mouse) Civs 3 and 4 have been particularly bad about not accepting movement chains -- say you're moving a tank with movement 3 along roads (so move cost = 1/3rd). 9 keypresses will use up your movement. In civ 1, if you knew where you wanted to go you could key in those keypresses as fast as you can type. The game would remember them and catch up later. In recent versions (3 and 4) if you press a key too soon, the game just eats the keypress. Yes yes, "go to" is the solution in that example, but given the spazz-outs that "go to" can produce on railroads in the older civs, I don't tend to trust it. (I've been learning to trust it again in 4)

This might be a UI decision to make it harder for idiots to screw up by spamming keys, but frankly it sucks. I also have that problem with the wait-at-end-of-turn (which I prefer, but I hate it missing my first "enter" because it is busy animating a unit). Sure, I could turn animations off, but in general that didn't seem to solve my problem. Decide I'm done with my only unit (early-game problem), hit space and enter rapidly and it misses it.

Also, the new build UI sucks in 4. For one thing, why in god's green earth are the reccomendations not marked when you zoom in to the city level? This has been obviously missing since the beginning and should be there by now. And why are there 3+ lines of things to build (units, city improvments, wonders) and only 2 lines visible at once?

Re:Let's get something straight. (4, Insightful)

badasscat (563442) | about 8 years ago | (#15970055)

Turn Based games like Civ do tend to have a lot more micro-management than RTS titles, but either does require quite a bit of mouse work. That said, is there any viable alternative?

I don't think it's about alternatives, and I don't think there's anything wrong with Civ's interface.

I think the point is RTS games and turn-based games are fundamentally different. It's a pretty egregious mistake to call Civ an RTS and to say it has too many clicks on that basis, IMO, which makes the whole story here (or at least the headline and summary) basically moot.

Some RTS games may very well require too many clicks. The whole point is the action is happening in real-time, so you want to minimize your work load as much as possible. The interface needs to be streamlined so that you can get done what you need to do quickly.

Turn-based games, though, are under no such constraints, and in fact part of the reason people still play them is because you don't need to be in such a hurry and can play completely at your own pace.

The bottom line is they are two different genres that are often chosen by gamers for completely opposite reasons. Those who want action-oriented strategy buy RTS games; those who want more depth and planning buy turn-based games. It is a huge mistake to suggest that turn-based games need to be more like real-time games, which is in effect what's being suggested by lumping both genres in together. Both genres in fact exist to counterbalance each other.

I do remember playing the original Myth and feeling like I literally just didn't have enough time to deal with the interface before my guys got slaughtered. So this is a big concern in real RTS games. But using Civilization as an example of what's wrong with the RTS genre is just incorrect on many different levels.

Is Civ 4 even an RTS? (1)

Xest (935314) | about 8 years ago | (#15969111)

I was under the impression the Civilisation games are turn based strategy rather than real time strategy games? If the article is about RTS' in general then I can't see the problem, it's usually click to select a unit or click and drag to select multiple. Click on screen to either move, attack or perform an action on whatever is under the cursor then just click maybe a builder unit then menus to choose what to build then click to build it. Most RTS games automate resource gathering even so you don't need to make units do that usually, short of making units launch attacks and decide what to build for you hence automating the game so there's no point playing I can't see how the number of clicks can be reduced. This article seems more like a complaint about Civilisation's UI than RTS games in general.

huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969118)

Civ and Civ2 were turn-based and NOT RTS. Isn't Civ3 the same? I can only assume it is so this summary isn't making much sense...

And...? (1)

lucky130 (267588) | about 8 years ago | (#15969131)

I wouldn't say that's a lot for an RTS; a good War3 player seems to have, on average, 100+ actions per minute.

Re:And...? (1)

jandrese (485) | about 8 years ago | (#15969152)

Which was the main reason I hated War3. Too freaking much micromanagement. I was a huge Kohan fan when it was still played however.

Re:And...? (1)

lucky130 (267588) | about 8 years ago | (#15969167)

And that's one of the reasons I like War3 (of course, I was also a big fan of Starcraft). To each their own I guess.

Re:And...? (1)

Knetzar (698216) | about 8 years ago | (#15969234)

See, I love starcraft (and still play it) but I couldn't get into WC3. I can't pay attention to that many details at once. Get rid of the heros, and I think I could handle it...or even better, give me starcraft with the WC3 interface.

Re:And...? (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 8 years ago | (#15969192)

A good WC3 player can probably win with 60 APM aswell, depends on how intelligent your clicks and actions are, some guys probably spit out 300 and lose anyway ;)

But yes, in general more clicks probably mean better control of the units, thought I doubt anyone can make 300 useful actions per minute.

Get some reflexes (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969155)

See how many mouse clicks and key presses you get from tagging walls with porn pics, jumping, shooting, reloading and typing "WTF MAN?!11!" "HAX!!!1!!!1!" "AIM BOT!!1!!1!!!!!1!!" "ZOMG LAG!!1!!!!!"

Re:Get some reflexes (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 8 years ago | (#15969303)

This guy does make a valid, albeit somewhat cryptic point.

In RTS games, more buttons/icons/commands are notorious for generating low ratings and sales due to the steep difficulty curve. But for FPS games, players are always trying to bend the rules by doing backwards flying cartwheels for an extra edge. They'd have no problem if you threw in a bunch of new, acrobatic keypresses. Fighter games, too. Maybe it's dependent on the gamer?

Re:Get some reflexes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969492)

Voice_of_all_reason, I don't know how you do it but you seem to be stalking the same AC that posted the "Bill Gates, 1995" comment. Unless you're into 6ft tall rugby playing englishmen I suggest you reconsider your course of action.

My original, and rather flippant point, was why all the complaining about key presses and mouse clicking when you've got to do a lot more in most other game genres. If I wanted to write it out long-hand I'd have considered logging in :D

In a word: YES! (1)

gentimjs (930934) | about 8 years ago | (#15969157)

I cant count the games of starcraft I've lost because I couldnt activate all the unit abilities quickly enough through the hotkeys and such ....
It would be nice if RTS's had some meta-level "ai strategy for my own stuff" setting, so that you could set your units to auto-use the killer special abilities (or whatever) while patroling on guard duty instead of the default wimpy attacks (or whatever)

Re:In a word: YES! (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#15969499)

Definitely, automatic ability use (where appropriate) should be standard for all games with abilities. When I'm moving units in a group I don't want to constantly single out a unit or two to use their special abilities.

Re:In a word: YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15970301)

I was going to suggest you try TA:Spring, but then I recognised your name from their forum :).

I'll just give up RTS games and go play Diablo! (4, Funny)

KatchooNJ (173554) | about 8 years ago | (#15969165)

Ya know something... this article opened my eyes. Before I get carpal tunnel, I'm going to uninstall my RTS games and load back on Diablo! Weee!!

Click... click... click... click... click... click... click... click... click... click...

Mouse Wear Champion - Tie Fighter (1)

Dareth (47614) | about 8 years ago | (#15969578)

Destroyed many a good Logitech mouse playing Tie Fighter. But I am qualified to fly any craft in the Imperial Fleet!

Anyone ever play it with a joystick?

lol, 422 + 290 actions? (2, Interesting)

aliquis (678370) | about 8 years ago | (#15969169)

lol!

422 mouse clicks is much?! Go watch the APM for say Grubby in WC3 or whatever korean in Starcraft and then come back and talk about the amount of actions. Thought their games really ARE RTS, isn't Civilization turn based?

Too many... what? (2, Funny)

LSD-OBS (183415) | about 8 years ago | (#15969173)

For a second there, I swear it said "too many chicks". There was a new tab opened to www.ebgames.com before I even had the chance to reparse!

Eating steak, too much chewing? (5, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | about 8 years ago | (#15969176)

Uhhh...are people buying the game and having fun? If so, then I think it's safe to say that the number of clicks is just fine.

If it's too many clicks for you personally, then maybe you should go play a different game. I know it's hard to believe, but you as an individual are not the intended market for every developer out there.

Re:Eating steak, too much chewing? (1)

Xofer D (29055) | about 8 years ago | (#15969493)

Uhhh...are people buying the game and having fun? If so, then I think it's safe to say that the number of clicks is just fine.
It seems to me that if the interface could be improved, perhaps more people would buy the game and have fun. If that wasn't a goal of game developers, they'd be quite happy to stop worrying after two people bought the game and had fun with it.

Re:Eating steak, too much chewing? (1)

cowscows (103644) | about 8 years ago | (#15969871)

I understand your point, but I think it's simplifying things a bit. In a good game, the interface isn't just something applied over the gameplay, it's an integral part of it. In Civ III, you have to click a bazillion times because you're controlling so many different units at a fairly specific level. While you might be able to replace the clicking with something else (gestures, keyboard commands), you can't really remove that interaction without it becoming a different kind of game. In the example of Civilization, you'd basically be dumbing down the game in order to get a wider market appeal. That sounds good at first, but there's more to consider. You'd piss off a lot of the series' older fans, who enjoy the complexities of the game. You'd likely get blasted for it by the gaming media. You'd generate a lot of negative publicity for it, and seriously damage a franchise that already has a lot of built-in market. While you might make up for that with a bunch of new to Civilization buyers, you're still taking a risk.

Then there's the whole question of whether or not that's the kind of game the developer wants to make. While they certainly can't be completely oblivious to market and financial realities, I'd imagine that developers working on something that they want to create and care about would generally result in a better game, even if that game doesn't appeal to everyone.

Re:Eating steak, too much chewing? (1)

DingerX (847589) | about 8 years ago | (#15969573)

You're right.

And plenty of people are buying steamer tickets. Why should we worry about Jet transport?

Sure, the click-fests of RTSs and strategy games sell copies, but that doesn't mean they exploit the market potential to the fullest. I'll still enjoy a game like Battlefront's Combat Mission series, but most people won't, and the reason is because they're forced to micromanage a battalion down at the squad level. When I describe a game afterwards, I don't talk about the individual squads most of the time, but about how the companies and sometimes platoons moved. A game that simulated higher-level combat command, with the same granularity as Combat Mission, but that behaved intelligently with far less user input, would be a game that kicked ass.

Of course, there's a pragmatic reason why this grand theory of mouse-clicks hasn't gotten hold: AI is hard. Unless your "seven objects" include humans in the loop, you need someone to write really fancy code to predict what it is the person wants to do. The Author's claim that programmers have trouble dealing with abstract objects is a red herring: the problem isn't permitting abstractions such as "the railroad project" to exist, but rather giving them in the game the conceptual value they have for the user.

To borrow an example from my buddy from Cordova, imagine a game where you command a team of building contractors. You want to build a bathtub. The bathtub, when it is built, is a concrete object in the gamespace. It can have properties and all that, but more importantly, the game has authority on what the bathtub is: to the user, it looks about 4 feet long, has claw feet, is white; to the game, and thus in the underlying reality, the tub uses this polygon model in this space, and this orientation, this texture map, and resides in this block of memory.
Here, the user can know something about the bathtub, and will, in time, learn some of the quirks of its underlying reality: If I instruct my virtual demo guy to set off a crate of dynamite in the bathtub, the tub will not be damaged; the user will find this dissonance disappointing, but not a deal breaker.
Now consider the abstraction "building the bathtub". In the mind of the user, this means certain things: Bob, Fred and John bring in a tub, orient it in a certain way, attach claw feet and plumbing, drink a few cokes, charge the owner $2000, and crack a tile. The computer, on the other hand, has to know all this. In particular, it has to know that it's Bob, Fred and John; that working on the bathtub is more important than weatherproofing the front deck, that the bathtub is assembled in a certain way, and in a certain order. You can link all these things to an abstract logic with a list of things to do, and it'll probably "work". But with abstractions, the amount of work required to put the entities in being is much higher, and the number of points of dissonance increases: If the AI pulls in Jose from installing the toilet, and leaves Bob out varnishing the deck, the user's going to be upset in a way that a non-destructable bathtub won't make him.

So you're back to allowing micromanagement, which then invokes what the author claims is Gresham's Law (well, it is, but not from the player's side: Gresham's Law works here because, when you insert two "currencies" in circulation: automated and manual fall-back, most programmers are going to do a half-assed job on the automated version, since "those really interested can always switch over to manual" -- so, the sonar operator never hears long-range propellers the human ear can; Bob gets stuck in a closest until the human comes over to free him).

I dunno. I agree with the principle, but not the solution. Perhaps there isn't any single one: in some cases, an intelligent interface and some finite-state AI would go a long way; in others, multiplayer could fill out the hierarchies with humans in the loop; in still others, a stateless neural network might make things interesting.

Re:Eating steak, too much chewing? (1)

Aceticon (140883) | about 8 years ago | (#15969614)


Uhhh...are people buying the game and having fun? If so, then I think it's safe to say that the number of clicks is just fine.

If it's too many clicks for you personally, then maybe you should go play a different game. I know it's hard to believe, but you as an individual are not the intended market for every developer out there.

What? And give up on one's [insert divinity or pantheon here]'s given right to bitch about something in a game?

You must be new here ;)

no wii for you (4, Funny)

dolson (634094) | about 8 years ago | (#15969185)

If you get exhausted just from moving your fingers to click and push buttons, then I think you aren't going to be too happy when you hear about the Nintendo Wii's control scheme. What America really needs is a gaming console that lets you control your games simply by chewing food and drinking soda.

Re:no wii for you (2, Funny)

sammy baby (14909) | about 8 years ago | (#15969267)

What America really needs is a gaming console that lets you control your games simply by chewing food and drinking soda.


Actually, I've played several games where the entire user interface is comprised of drinking beer. They belong to a genre usually referred to as "Drinking Games."

There's also a simplified version of the game, which can even be played solo, called "Drinking." Dedicated fans sometimes like to follow it up with a wind-down round of "Drunk-dialing the ex" or "Puking your guts out."

Re:no wii for you (2, Funny)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 8 years ago | (#15969327)

There's also a simplified version of the game, which can even be played solo, called "Drinking."

Would you mind writing up a strategy guide for this one? I'm having a bit of trouble on level 6.

Re:no wii for you (1)

Aceticon (140883) | about 8 years ago | (#15969632)

Is that before or after the "Puke your guts out" end of level boss?

Re:no wii for you (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 8 years ago | (#15970278)

Actually, I was hoping for some cheat codes to give a +constitution boost.

Re:no wii for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15970145)

Isn't that called television? :)

No (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 8 years ago | (#15969186)

Why do people always want to dumb down games? RTS and games based around the general idea are always going to be complex and require you to do a lot of clicking, it's in their nature and always will be. These games are liked and designed by the same sort of people, they want to be able to control every little detail and they don't mind if you don't because yo can have your other games.

Sounds to me like the article writer needs to pick up Advance wars or Super robot taisen games. Both are turn based strategy and in at least SRW's case you sort out your units in menus between missions and then "ingame" you only have to pick it you want to use a special ability, where your units move and what attacks/how they respond to being attacked.

But then this is comming from a guy who struggles to keep track of his economy in RTS games, so maybe I'm not seeing the bigger picture and just "accept I'm not great at everything", but that doesn't mean I want to change things so I'm better.

Re:No (1)

AcidLacedPenguiN (835552) | about 8 years ago | (#15969290)

Actually I would reccomend the game Rise of Legends which reduces necessary clicking or memorizing all the different keystrokes. Basically (off the top of my head) it has a 12 box (4 x 3) button array, for keyboard, the top row has the keys Q W E and R bound to each button, to get the middle row you do shift + Q W E or R and to access the buttom row you do ctrl + Q W E or R.
So far it has been really intuitive, and its really the first RTS i've gotten into (and played for more than a few times) since C&C and Total Annihilation.
I've also really enjoyed Dai Senriyaku 7 for the xbox, which is basically a larger version of the Advance Wars series. unfortunately it is too complex for my friends to even want to learn to play :(

Civ != RTS (2, Informative)

batmn42 (158573) | about 8 years ago | (#15969195)

Civ is a prime example of a game that is NOT real-time strategy. It is a turn-based strategy game.

Just FYI. I do agree that there are too many clicks in RTS games like Starcraft, Warcraft, and even Rise of Nations.

Not a strategy game if you don't control details! (3, Insightful)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 8 years ago | (#15969215)

But what the article fails to mention is that all those clicks and movements is exactly what makes that game fun. If you play Civ like me, you play against overwhelming odds (on Deity, the AI cheats terribly) and you proudly flaunt your human ingenuity exactly though applying your limited resources in the most optimal way possible on every level of detail. Figuring out how to efficiently transfer an army of railroad builders to another continent takes a lot of planning and clicking, but these sorts of projects inside the game is what makes it worth playing. I'd like to ask any complainers: where exactly do you see the fun in strategy games, if not in conceiving and executing elaborate and detailed strategies? What sort of a real player complains about the tedium of building an efficient railroad network for transporting troops and goods, when exactly such logistical advantages often mean the difference between victory and defeat?

What are the alternatives, then? Remove all that detail? Oh, I know: How about a big red button that says "apply your human ingenuity in the most optimal way possible". (It would be a big button.) That would certainly save you a lot of mouse clicks. Yeah, that may be what the next generation of strategy games will look like, but I'd rather play Civ.

Re:Not a strategy game if you don't control detail (3, Insightful)

Haeleth (414428) | about 8 years ago | (#15969408)

I'd like to ask any complainers: where exactly do you see the fun in strategy games, if not in conceiving and executing elaborate and detailed strategies? What sort of a real player complains about the tedium of building an efficient railroad network for transporting troops and goods, when exactly such logistical advantages often mean the difference between victory and defeat?

That's exactly the issue. Coming up with a strategy = fun. The question is, how high-level are your orders going to be?

If implementing your strategy involves moving individual workers and ships one square at a time, then I'm sorry, but no normal person will enjoy that. Even having "go there" orders doesn't necessarily help. In the old versions of Civ I used to play, you couldn't group units, so you couldn't just say "send these 25 workers to Athens and these 25 to Thermopylae", you had to issue 50 separate orders to units. That's not fun. It doesn't give you any more strategic options, it just makes you click a lot.

Similarly, in the versions of Civ I played, there were only two ways to build a railway. If you wanted a specific route, you had to build it manually: tell a worker to build a railway on the square it was on, wait for it to finish, move it to the next square, repeat. Alternatively, you could tell it to build a railway from where it was to some other place, but then you lost control of the route and it would build it somewhere stupid and take twice as long as it should have. What you couldn't do was tell a unit to go to a certain point, then from there build a railway via a specific route to some other point. So you either had to give up strategic control, or you had to click a lot.

Nobody's saying they want games dumbed down. They just want smoother interfaces that make it easier for you to tell the game what your strategy is and how you want it implemented, without forcing you to perform every single step yourself.

Details are not strategy (1)

Chemisor (97276) | about 8 years ago | (#15970202)

What makes Civ enjoyable is the strategy, but all those clicks the article complains about is about tactics. Deciding how many workers to assign to building a railroad is strategy, telling each worker how to get to the building site is tactics. Figuring out the best way to transport a hundred units to another continent is strategy, actually trasporting them is tactics. The computer can not do strategy, but it can do tactics. In fact, it can do tactics a million times better and faster than any human. Your "human ingenuity" of applying your limited resources in the most optimal way possible is vastly inferior to the computer's. You can not keep track of all details simultaneously, the computer can. You are not going to model different allocation strategies and pick the optimal one, the computer will. Face it, the computer will always win at micromanagement; it's what the computer is for, and when you try to do the computer's job, it is no fun at all, being mechanical, tedious, and unrewarding.

Dare I say..? (1)

zyl0x (987342) | about 8 years ago | (#15969225)

I counted the clicks, mouse movements, and keystrokes that it took me to get through one move of Civilization III in the year 1848. Many hours later, when that turn was done, I'd counted 422 mouse clicks, 352 mouse movements, 290 key presses, 23 wheel scrolls, and 18 screen pans to scroll the screen.

If it takes someone "many hours" to play a single turn in any turn-based game, I would imagine that it's not just the game itself that has a problem.

Also, like it has been mentioned above, Civ IV made many improvements upon it's predecessor aside from the improved graphics engine. These include, but are not limited to, more tile improvements, more unique units such as great philosophers, engineers, artists, and merchants, addition game modes, expandable mini-map, and better worker until control and automation.

Looking at screenshots usually isn't a good way to gauge how many technical improvements have been made.

Glad he added the last part... (1)

Retroneous (879615) | about 8 years ago | (#15969238)

"422 mouse clicks, 352 mouse movements, 290 key presses, 23 wheel scrolls, and 18 screen pans to scroll the screen"

Grand. So the 18 screen pans weren't controlled by the 422 mouse clicks, 352 mouse movements, 290 key presses or 23 wheel scrolls?

How Not to Write a Thesis (4, Funny)

LargeWu (766266) | about 8 years ago | (#15969252)

Pick one data point. Make sure it's outdated and unrepresentative. Base it on subjective criteria.

Seriously the article could have been summarized like this:
"There's this one real-time strategy game, except it's a turn based game, and it requires too many clicks per turn once the game is sufficiently advanced. Except this problem was mitigated in the next version. Therefore, RTS games require too many clicks."

Re:How Not to Write a Thesis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969505)

Yeah, especially since many modern RTS games will actually count your clicks and give you an Actions-Per-Minute score at the end, thus saving him tons of work. Idiot.

Hmm - captcha text of the day = "moaned" :)

Re:How Not to Write a Thesis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969778)


"There's this one real-time strategy game, except it's a turn based game, and it requires too many clicks per turn once the game is sufficiently advanced. Except this problem was mitigated in the next version. Therefore, RTS games require too many clicks."


Pretty much unassailable logic if you ask me

Reign of the twitch gamers... (3, Interesting)

Beolach (518512) | about 8 years ago | (#15969283)

I used to consider RTS games to be among my top favorite genres, maybe even #1. But it's gotten to the point where they're ruled by the twitch gamers, just like FPS games (which have been among my least favorite genres). WC3 is the main RTS I play right now, and in normal games I really suck bad. So I tend to end up playing custom games, mostly Tower Defence maps.

The problem I have is that the RT is overruling the S - the Real Time nature of the game means that you don't have enough time to work on a long-term strategy, because you have to defend against immediate threats. But because multi-player is such an important feature to have in mass-market games, it's hard to do away with Real Time, because Turn Based Strategy games are more difficult to correctly implement multiplayer, not on a technical level, but on a "pleases most players" level - you don't want to allow one player to slow down the game for all the other players, but you don't want to rush anyone, either. Also, Turn Based Strategy seem to have this "obsolete/inferior" rap going against them compared with Real Time Strategy, which they really don't deserve.

I really liked how Majesty [cyberlore.com] removed the twitch-gamer advantage, by removing the low-level control of individual units. I'd probably play Majesty more than WC3, except that WC3 is more popular with my friends.

Re:Reign of the twitch gamers... (1)

daranz (914716) | about 8 years ago | (#15969566)

This is what makes games like the Total War series fun... They emphasize strategy, and try to reduce more managerial tasks such as assigning individual workers to building a structure. Total War still remains realtime, however, it doesn't force you to micromanage anything, instead letting you control the big picture. Yes, you still have to make decisions in a timely manner, however, the outcome of the battle isn't determined by how efficently you wrestle with the interface, but rather, by your strategic decisions. IMHO, that's what an ideal RTS should be like - the outcome of the battle shouldn't be determined by who can more efficiently use the interface, and through it micromanage their base construction and armies, but rather, it should be determined by who makes better decisions throughout.

It is possible to create an RTS that forces the player to think instead of acting as fast as possible. However, the traditional RTS model is definately the most popular out there, and there isn't too much innovation in the genre.

Re:Reign of the twitch gamers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969997)

Strictly speaking the Total War series is turn based, but combat is real time, and far outpaces any RTS title I'v seen. For anyone who prefers strategy to twitch Total War is definitely the way to go.

Check out supreme commander (2, Informative)

imbaczek (690596) | about 8 years ago | (#15969385)

SupCom [supremecommander.com] for all those Total Annihilation lovers, where you can issue orders and forget about the units doing them, because you know they'll get executed.

This game will remove the arcade out of RTS. Check out the trailer [google.com] or the E3 presentation [google.com] .

Re:Check out supreme commander (3, Interesting)

PFI_Optix (936301) | about 8 years ago | (#15969507)

Another vote for Supreme Commander

From TFA: "The RTS user interface hasn't improved since Total Annihilation (1997), which had more useful unit automation than many current games. Meanwhile, the number of objects our computers can control and animate has increased, and continues to increase, exponentially. The old UI model isn't at the breaking point - it's broken."

Total Annihilation allowed you to automate most of the less exciting parts of an RTS.

Need repairs? Put a few construction or repair units on a patrol route through your base. They'll stop to repair any damaged buildings. Want a fighter screen around your base to deal with bombers? Set your airfield's rally point as a patrol route and queue up a few dozen fighters. Speaking of queue...construction queues are virtually unlimited. No more going back and selecting each building to queue up 5 or 9 or 12 units every couple of minutes. The same goes for building construction; they can be queued, so that your entire base is planned and you don't have to select your construction units for every new building.

If Supreme Commander lives up to its promise of being an heir to TA, it has already addressed much of the problems mentioned in TFA.

Re:Check out supreme commander (1)

Firefly1 (251590) | about 8 years ago | (#15970378)

Total Annihilation allowed you to automate most of the less exciting parts of an RTS...
This makes me wonder: why was this degree of possible automation never adopted as the standard in the genre?
Of course, some titles - such as the Ground Control series, the upcoming Company of Heroes, and even AvP: Extinction - address this by eliminating base-building entirely.

Re:Check out supreme commander (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#15969570)

For the more immediate TA fix there's Spring [clan-sy.com] which adds many new features like better GUI, full mod support, full 3d, opensourciness and Linux-support. SupCom may be better but it's still so far away...

Oh hey, he's right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969389)

I guess I too click too much while playing RTS's! I guess I'll stop liking them now, even though I've loved them for so long. I mean, there's no way I can love something that makes me click so much.

Darwinia (1)

NekoXP (67564) | about 8 years ago | (#15969390)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwinia_(computer_ga me) [wikipedia.org]

Simple but still a fucking bore to control.

I hope games consoles like the Wii simplify this. Mouse clicks turn to buttons etc. but you can do everything you'd ever want with a mouse. I think waving a pointer or using a stylus just seems easier.. I *LOVE* playing RTS games with my Wacom, it's so much friendlier selecting units that way :)

Re:Darwinia (1)

Eye.Indigo (944760) | about 8 years ago | (#15969537)

I actually think that Darwinia did a great job at showing that algorythmization in a RTS game is possible and a lot of fun if you learn to think in a new way. Traditionally you have to concentrate on micromanagement all the time. While in Darwinia you only have to do things once.

Re:Darwinia (1)

NekoXP (67564) | about 8 years ago | (#15969669)

Unfortunately the Darwinians are SOOOO fucking stupid. You have to micromanage them around every mountain and tree until they get to some unobtainable version number.

It does show you can bring out a lot of gaming in very few real actions though.

Like I said I hope the new controllers f.i on the Wii will encourage designers to think about how you can get things done with one hand, one wavy pointer, and maybe 3 buttons, WHILE reducing the number of actions (it would be too easy to have one of them be a menu button).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seiken_Densetsu [wikipedia.org]

I always loved the way Square's "Ring Menu" (see Secret of Mana etc.) worked. Mix that with an iPod ClickWheel thing, that would be awesome for an RTS game with a wavy pointer. You could just hold down a button, wave the wand to rotate the wheel and let it select it by letting go of the button. However I think they patented it, or at least Apple probably have a patent now on the same kind of idea :(

Hold on now... (1)

Logan Smith (858256) | about 8 years ago | (#15969451)

Lay off. For some people, mouserobic exercise is the only exercise they get!

Too Many Clicks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969458)

Heaven forbid computer gamers actaully get a little physical excersise. Instead of complaining about how to make video games easier, go outside, get some sun, read a book.

Any RTS games with scripting interfaces? (1)

plopez (54068) | about 8 years ago | (#15969587)

Seriously, I like an occaisional RTS game but also sometimes am annoyed by the low level granularity. Is there an RTS with some sort of rule scripting interface? I haven't played in a few years but something like:
"Build railroad to point x then transfer workers to building mine and refinery" might work.

Or how about an economically driven interface like subsidize workers with salary $X for railroad work ad when complete, change to subsidy $Y for mining work and let each worker decide where to put in the effort. Sort of an ecomnomic simulation.

Any info on this?

Re:Any RTS games with scripting interfaces? (1)

no.17 (997011) | about 8 years ago | (#15970159)

Not really the four X's, but still good fun- though there's not scripting, its a pretty good economics sim! http://www.openttd.com/ [openttd.com]

Re:Any RTS games with scripting interfaces? (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | about 8 years ago | (#15970309)

Tropico somehow matches this economically driven interface. You can directly interract on some points with your guys (like murder an opposition leader), but your main actions is to create and configure workplaces and homes and let the people manage their career and leisure.

However, the problem in that game is the same as the simcities, it's not much the number of clicks but the long periods in which you just don't have anything too do.

More fun (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | about 8 years ago | (#15969595)

Yeah but this also adds to the level of intensity. Would you just rather click....then wait a few hours for something to happen?

Giving a game more options and allowing you to control more things and how things works gives the game a much different feel that a typical RTS. It can also change the outcome greatly when you have more options.
It keeps you on your feet.

one of the competitive factors (1)

RandomMonkey (908328) | about 8 years ago | (#15969601)

I am a big WC3 fan (RandomMonkey on Azeroth), so I may be biased. The mouse clicking is one of the major competitive factors involved with winning a WC3 game. There are many, many things Bliz could do to allow you to automate things more, but they intentionally decided to leave as a controlled aspect. It is just one more thing you can do better than your opponent. If you automate everything, you set everything up and then sit back and watch to see what happens, and that gets boring.

Bliz even lowered the army size from 200 in StarCraft to 90 in WC3 (and now 100 in TFT). They noted that with the giant army size the game tended to resolve to campers that would attack with a mass, and circumvented most of the tactical aspect of the game.

Also, at least with WC3, the game is not won completely by the speed of your mouse clicks. The best player tend to have the highest APM's, but is not always the case. Tactics and Strategy still play a huge role.

And as you waste your life playing a game like WC3 (or a FPS for that matter) your speed tends to go up. Play more!!!! ;-)

Man up, Nancy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969664)

Go complain about an actual RTS like Rise of Nations or Command and Conquer, or go back to playing with your barbies.

Two Quick Points: (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 8 years ago | (#15969720)

1) Civ is not an RTS game. RT stands for "Real-Time." Civ is most certainly turn-based and not real-time in any way whatsoever. That right there is enough to make me discard the article... if you don't know the difference between a real-time and a turn-based game, you shouldn't be writing gaming articles.

2) Many people like micro-management. I'm not one of them personally, but I have a unique and innovative solution: I don't buy games that require a lot of micro-management!

Try a Different Map size! (1)

Prien715 (251944) | about 8 years ago | (#15969763)

Because I hate the clicking so much, I play smaller maps and give them a few more AI players (and put resources on "balanced" so there's one iron/bronze/oil/etc per player). Really, controlling about 5-6 cities is about the level of micromanagement I like. I finished a whole game last night in a couple hours (Space Race victory in 2005; almost won by domination). With 10-20 cities (standard map), you really need automation in order to make the game fun.

The traditional problem with strategy games is late game there's just too many units/cities. Limiting map size limits the latter variable which limits the former.

The most interesting approach I've seen to micro was Crusader King [gamespot.com] where you larger landowners gain titles and are forced to delegate land to vassals or else their empire becomes inefficient. Of course, vassals can revolt/etc but it's a great way to own half of europe without a lot of micro as your controlling 15 dukes rather than 80 pieces of land. It makes the automation aspect part of the game rather than trying to build a wizard around it which I appreciate.

I love RTS (1)

am0nrahx (932883) | about 8 years ago | (#15969800)

As an avide gamer, I like the fast pace that some of the RTS games offer. I really don't mind having to click 1M times during a game. I play C&C Generals & Zero Hour and it amazes my buddies when I have a base built and ready to go in under 5 minutes. I have no problem with clicking a million times to do stuff. In fact, the more clicks the better.

Think of Ender's Game (1)

zapp (201236) | about 8 years ago | (#15969887)

Ok, I did just finish re-reading Ender's Game, but it's quite amazing that the book was copyrighted in 1977, and it basically describes what we now consider RTS games (among other things we now think commonplace like "the nets", the children's "desk", etc). Anyway:

As a commander, Ender has a level of control from individual ships up through the entire fleet. He has trained his toon leaders to follow guidance and think on their own. He can give quick verbal commands. I think if it were pulled off (as hard as it would be), that would be the ultimate RTS. It's not about who can click fastest and group units properly, it's about STRATEGY, right? Anything that gets in the way of that should be taken out of the game or streamlined.

Too many clicks? (1)

qcubed (655212) | about 8 years ago | (#15969953)

First things first, and said by others: Civ is an example of a TBS, not an RTS. While he doesn't explicitly come out and say that Civ is an RTS, he conflates the two by then launching into UI issues with RTSes. Complaining about Civ because it has too many clicks is like complaining about a database because it has too many datapoints. Why? Civ's a game where you're in control of a whole empire. Rome wasn't built in one click and lots of automation (which, honestly, one could argue would have made the city better designed, but also likely lacking a lot of charm). The problem with the "rule of seven" in a game such as Civ is that you end up with an overly ambitions, poorly executed disaster like Master of Orion III--everything was abstracted to a level where it was "easy" to maintain an empire, "easy" to play a game with turns lasting fewer than 5 minutes, and still ostensibly being in the true vein of TBS games. One had all the data of the game available within five mouse-clicks, but you could just as easily ignore it and click on the "next turn" button. Problem was, it wasn't very fun--and it wasn't just the case of poor execution. When you have so much automation, the game almost gets dumbed-down, almost too simplistic in its interface and presentation to the player. There is a lack of fine-grained control, as most of the more powerful and useful tools become so hidden or not even shown (like some OSes...). Instead of recognizing that increasing production in one region will cause cascade effects that may lead to unhappiness in three other regions, lessened treasuries, and bad research, because it's so "intuitive" and "helpful", the pull-this-lever type simplicity obscures that sort of insight into the mechanics of the game. Now, admittely, this is where the issue lies--what's fun for one isn't fun for others; honestly, I admit that I've played Civ for so long that all the keyboard shortcuts are placed into my memory, and this mouse-click UI problem he thinks exists, I don't think is even an issue. He might well enjoy a game like MOO3; if so, I'll send him my copy.

Re:Too many clicks? (1)

qcubed (655212) | about 8 years ago | (#15970015)

...yeah, that'll learn me good that I should press the preview button first.

Reposting for better readability:

First things first, and said by others: Civ is an example of a TBS, not an RTS. While he doesn't explicitly come out and say that Civ is an RTS, he conflates the two by then launching into UI issues with RTSes.

Complaining about Civ because it has too many clicks is like complaining about a database because it has too many datapoints. Why? Civ's a game where you're in control of a whole empire. Rome wasn't built in one click and lots of automation (which, honestly, one could argue would have made the city better designed, but also likely lacking a lot of charm).

The problem with the "rule of seven" in a game such as Civ is that you end up with an overly ambitions, poorly executed disaster like Master of Orion III--everything was abstracted to a level where it was "easy" to maintain an empire, "easy" to play a game with turns lasting fewer than 5 minutes, and still ostensibly being in the true vein of TBS games. One had all the data of the game available within five mouse-clicks, but you could just as easily ignore it and click on the "next turn" button.

Problem was, it wasn't very fun--and it wasn't just the case of poor execution. When you have so much automation, a game of that complexity almost gets "dumbed-down", almost too simplistic in its interface and presentation to the player. There is a lack of fine-grained control, as most of the more powerful and useful tools become so hidden or not even shown (like some OSes...). Instead of recognizing that increasing production in one region will cause cascade effects that may lead to unhappiness in three other regions, lessened treasuries, and bad research, because it's so "intuitive" and "helpful", the pull-this-lever type simplicity obscures that sort of insight into the Rube Goldberg-esque mechanics of the game.

Now, admittely, this is where the issue lies--what's fun for one isn't fun for others; honestly, I admit that I've played Civ for so long that all the keyboard shortcuts are placed into my memory, and this mouse-click UI problem he thinks exists, I don't think is even an issue. He might well enjoy a game like MOO3; if so, I'll send him my copy.

Sounds like someone is playing wrong? (1)

kinglink (195330) | about 8 years ago | (#15970028)

Personally I set up good governors and let them run the city, I can get by with around 10 mouse clicks, and one screen pan. Or I use the Go to function.

If you have to micromanage everything however you're milage will definatly vary, but that's a choice, not a part of the game.

Why is he panning? There's a map. 3000+ mouse clicks, 290 key presses? Is it just me or does he just seem to be trying to rack up the number of things he's doing to make a point.

And as stated a Civ game isn't RTS. RTS need a much faster UI system than Civilization.

like the caps lock key (1)

matt328 (916281) | about 8 years ago | (#15970074)

Y'know, this whole life thing, its like all I ever get done doing is breathing in, then breathing out. And what the hell's with this locomotion? You mean I gotta put one foot in front of the other how many times?

Rubbish argument - rubbish conclusions (1)

zalle (637380) | about 8 years ago | (#15970174)

Yes, this wasn't his point (though it was an argument he made for his case, though a very very bad one), but I think the old geezer is missing the reason why the young whippersnappers are better than him in RTSes: they practice. The koreans who excel in Starcraft aren't 14 nor full of testosterone - they practice. Seems like the kids are doing 3 clicks a second? Try figuring out the keyboard commands, and you might get why. If you can't be bothered to learn how to play a new game, whether it's bowling or Total Annihilation, you won't get to see the finer nuances of strategy in that game. And even more case in point - once you've played a game like Starcraft enough, the way you think about it becomes similar to the way he describes chess masters thinking about their game.

Oh, and Civ isn't an RTS.

Some thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15970201)

Because I'm at work, I've not RTFA. From what I'm seeing here it's not so great.
BUT, I'm a BIG RTS fan and I have some observations. To date, my favorite RTS is Total Annihilation (which is about to be re-born as Supreme Commander). This game did everything possible to make the U.I. user-friendly: you can select all units of one type or class with a simple keystroke, attacking can be very automated or very pinpointed at single units, you could queque up up to 100 units (or more?) to be built by a factory, units could follow waypoints, etc.
CONTRAST THIS with Starcraft (Starcrap to me). You are NOT ALLOWED to queue > 5 units from a factory. This game is a click-fest with clicking cream on top. I hated it to the point I uninstalled it and sold my copy.
If I were to make a RTS, I would start from the UI that TA used, and try to improve it. Many game makers forget how many keys are on the keyboard and how powerful that can be. Sure it may slightly increase the learning curve, but it will make the overall user experience much better in the end.

To be fair to the author... (3, Informative)

Flaming Babies (904475) | about 8 years ago | (#15970217)

...he didn't call Civilization III a RTS game.

His comment was:
Overclick isn't limited to Civilization. Real-time strategy games will leave you with even worse carpal tunnel.
There are no mentions in the rest of the article about Real-time.
It's just a poor title for the summary.
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