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Real-Time Strategy Games - Too Many Clicks? 174

Posted by Zonk
from the clicky-click dept.
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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Real-Time Strategy Games - Too Many Clicks?

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  • Automation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Iamthefallen (523816) * <Gmail name: Iamthefallen> on Thursday August 24, 2006 @09:23AM (#15969050) Homepage Journal
    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bateleur (814657)
      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.
      • 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 m
    • 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.
      • by AuMatar (183847)
        Civ 4 isn't an RTS, so an AoE style interface wouldn't work. For example, you don't gather resources and you don't build buildings on the general map- workers build improvements on map squares and all the buildings are placed inside cities (no workers needed). YOu can only build 1 building of a type per city, and only 1 building at a time per city.
      • by Sigma 7 (266129)

        The other RTS I've played (age of empires and mythology) are much more intuitive.

        Intuitiveness is not the problem. AoE and AoM are highly intuitive. The main issue is micromanagement.

        Even the best games in the genre suffer from this flaw at an extremely core level. If a unit (e.g. basic infantry) finds a target, it will keep firing at that target until it leaves range, dies, is killed itself, or is given another order. (Depending on it's "command", it may choose to pursue and engage.) This is a flaw

    • by keesh (202812)
      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.
      • 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?
      • 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 (d
        • by tbannist (230135)
          There's a few things that really help out on the micromanagement. Some of this was attempted in Masters of Orion III, but it fell short on too many other fronts to be really stand-out.

          For example cities should produce according to the following

          1) Civilization wide default build queue.
          - Let me set the order I want my buildings built in by default in every city. There should be a queue of buildings and the order they should be built. For instance say I want marketplace, factory, bank, and then powe
    • by Keebler71 (520908)
      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 [civfanatics.com]
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      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
      • by KDR_11k (778916)
        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.
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          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
          • by KDR_11k (778916)
            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 Ar
            • by CastrTroy (595695)
              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.
    • by init100 (915886)

      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 eac

    • by xtracto (837672)
      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 wo
  • ...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.
    • by fitten (521191)
      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.
      • 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.
    • 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.
    • by Nicolay77 (258497)
      I've read a lot of TA and I tried to play it, but it seems to me that it doesn't have the rock/paper/scissors model that other games (starcraft) have. So it doesn't appeal as much as SC as I though it would based on reviews.

      That and the fact that I was unable to finish the mission against the lots of big ships with such a huge range no matter what I did.

      I'm welcome to suggestions.
  • 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 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by beavis88 (25983) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @09:31AM (#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...
    • 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...

      Oh yeah Mr Know-it-all? So he plays the current instead of the previous incarnation of the game, he sees that someone had the same idea he had but years ago and more or less fixed it, he now can't write a 6-page article for his site, which doesn't get /.ed and therefore doesn't get all those people clicking on ads, gets into fi

  • by Digitus1337 (671442) <{moc.liamtoh} {ta} {sutigid_kl}> on Thursday August 24, 2006 @09:32AM (#15969109) Homepage
    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?
    • by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @09:54AM (#15969282) Homepage Journal
      >> 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.
    • That said, is there any viable alternative?

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rhys (96510)
      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
    • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75&yahoo,com> on Thursday August 24, 2006 @11:30AM (#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.
    • Why don't they call that a 4E game?
  • 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
  • I wouldn't say that's a lot for an RTS; a good War3 player seems to have, on average, 100+ actions per minute.

    • by jandrese (485)
      Which was the main reason I hated War3. Too freaking much micromanagement. I was a huge Kohan fan when it was still played however.
      • by lucky130 (267588)
        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.
        • by Knetzar (698216)
          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.
        • by jandrese (485)
          I actually liked Starcraft too, but with War3 you had to split your attention so much between your early hero clearing out the NPC mobs near the base for some XP and gold while building your base while remembering that if you're 5 seconds late on clicking that next building in your base you're probably going to be rushed and killed.
    • by aliquis (678370)
      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.
  • 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)
    • by KDR_11k (778916)
      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.
  • 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...
  • by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Thursday August 24, 2006 @09:42AM (#15969169) Homepage
    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?
  • by LSD-OBS (183415) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @09:42AM (#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!
  • by cowscows (103644) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @09:42AM (#15969176) Journal
    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.
    • by Xofer D (29055)
      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.
      • by cowscows (103644)
        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 Civili
    • by DingerX (847589)
      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
    • by Aceticon (140883)

      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 ;)

  • by dolson (634094) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @09:43AM (#15969185) Homepage Journal
    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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sammy baby (14909)

      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: (Score:3, Funny)

        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.
        • by Aceticon (140883)
          Is that before or after the "Puke your guts out" end of level boss?
          • Actually, I was hoping for some cheat codes to give a +constitution boost.
            • by steveo777 (183629)
              If you remember the old Bard's Tale series that appeared on the old Apple IIGS's and the like, you could drink to your hearts content, you HP would go up, but the Con would drop... So I'm thinking you must be looking for the wrong stat boost. I'm willing to bet it has something to do with the bladder in a just shy of explosion state for hours. Then pissing ever seven to eight minutes for the rest of the day.
        • by JonLatane (750195)
          What's cool about this game is its variety and multitude of endings, and dynamically generated content. Once you've reached level 6, you often find yourself with the option of trying to rescue a princess and bringing her to your place. However, this is not recommended, because after Level 6 it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish a princess from a monster, and that will give you a temporary stat down of Pride -8. Usually the best option at level 6, if you still want to try and recognize a prince
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by JonLatane (750195)
            Oh, and I forgot to mention: If you do decide to rescue a princess, make sure you keep your levels low, as trying this outcome at extremely high levels (level 13+ makes it impossible for my character) is impossible; your Tool Use and Maintenance scores decrease by about -10 each level, and word spreads among princesses if you don't do a good job saving them.
  • 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
    • 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
      • Thats why I said the above games. In SRW all you need to know is "Super robot are hard to damage, real robots are hard to hit" everything is more or less contained within that.

        Advance wars is a bit simpler and easier to find. But as we've both pointed out theres more options.
  • Civ != RTS (Score:2, Informative)

    by batmn42 (158573)
    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.
  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @09:46AM (#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.

    • 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 implement
    • 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 "
  • 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 impro

  • "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?
  • by LargeWu (766266) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @09:51AM (#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."
  • by Beolach (518512) <beolach.juno@com> on Thursday August 24, 2006 @09:54AM (#15969283) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by daranz (914716)
      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 dec
    • by SendBot (29932)
      You might be interested in Bang Howdy then, which is still in beta. It's made by the same people who make yohoho puzzle pirates. (sorry I'm turnign out a project and don't have time to dig up links) There's a lot of fast-paced action, but it operates on a clock-tick operation so you get a chance to queue your actions before your units and everyone else actually move. Of course, there's an advantage to being fast, say if you tell your unit to move to an area first, when the clock ticks you'll get there and t
  • 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].
    • by PFI_Optix (936301) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @10:24AM (#15969507) Journal
      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.
    • by KDR_11k (778916)
      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...
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwinia_(computer_g a 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 :)
    • 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.
      • by NekoXP (67564)
        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 bu
  • Lay off. For some people, mouserobic exercise is the only exercise they get!
  • 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 effo
  • 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 t

  • 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!
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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 c
  • 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 fa
  • by Flaming Babies (904475) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @11:47AM (#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.
  • Wow, not only am I surprised at the number of people who got modded +5 Interesting/Insightful/etc for pointing out that Civ4 isn't an RTS, merely because these same people only read the /. summary instead of TFA, I'm even more surprised at the number of moderators that didn't RTFA and gave those +1 Interesting/Insightful/etc points. People, RTFA. Nowhere in the article does it mention that Civ 4 is an RTS. If you RTFA, you would've saw this:

    "Overclick isn't limited to Civilization. Real-time strategy game
  • I don't play RTS games anymore because the clicking is so annoying. The games are so complicated with all the units and it is a definite skill that takes long hours of practice to learn keybindings and effective manipulations. I stopped when the UI was getting in the way of the strategy: as in, I would look at a situation and say, "Ok, I need those units over there, this guy has to go here, these three heal those 6, and that guy needs to scout NE." Then I would realize just how irritating it was to make
  • 'Could games like Civilization benefit from putting their interfaces on a diet?

    Simple answer, "Yes, move along."

    He mentions Civ 3.

    Civilization's developers, Firaxis, streamlined the game significantly for Civ4. As the developers themselves felt that, for all the flexibility, it could use a UI/click count diet, the answer's clearly "yes."

    It's kind of like waiting until six months after an election in which a new President is elected and asking, "Is the country ready for a change from the policies of [the las

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