★ TouchArcade needs your help. Click here to support us on Patreon.

iPad RTS games: a terrible idea?

05-04-2010, 12:25 AM
#1
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Posts: 12
iPad RTS games: a terrible idea?

I came across this article today:

http://www.quarterdown.com/Editorial...ve-RTS-Gaming/

It makes some interesting assertions about RTS games, particularly that the genre is stagnating and that the touch controls of the iPad could "save" it. The article goes on to describe some touch-based features that I won't regurgitate here, but I want to know what other developers think about this.

Personally, the features suggested don't seem to take advantage of anything unique to a touch device; you could easily use a mouse to do the same things. And I think the best RTS players rely very heavily on keyboard controls for speed, so a touch-centered RTS would frustrate them. In my mind, there is no question that an RTS on the iPad would have a much slower pace. Maybe that's good though, because it would appeal to a wider audience.

As a developer, I don't want to make games that feel forced onto a platform where they don't belong. I will admit that I haven't played any RTS on the iPhone or iPad, but I assume they exist. Are there any that exemplify what a true touch-based RTS is capable of, or is this a genre best left to the PC?
05-04-2010, 08:09 AM
#2
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: UK / Toronto
Posts: 602
Even since before the iPad was unleashed I've been excited about the potential for controlling RTS games on a touchscreen. I think the author makes a perfect point about how most PC RTS games have reached a point where you almost need a degree to be able to control the game.

I have hundreds of control ideas for an iPad RTS game, and I'd love to have a go at designing one if nobody else steps into the fray.

05-04-2010, 08:10 AM
#3
I bought Red Alert and I seem to be awful at it with the touch screen, I must have mouse controls stuck in my head, but I flail around so much I just stopped playing.
05-04-2010, 09:24 AM
#4
Robocalypse for the iPhone.

Try the lite version. I thought it was a very nicely implemented RTS for the iPhone.


Also take a look at Boom Brigade for the control scheme he's proposing.

Boom Brigade's gameplay demonstrates unit combat using line-drawing controls. It very quickly gets hectic and becomes very hard for me to control. It's designed that way and I really liked the game for it's fast pace.


I've been playing SC2 for the past week and I just don't see the same level of play on iPad or tablets. Tablets aren't going to save RTS. Starcraft 2 will save the RTS genre.
05-04-2010, 10:27 AM
#5
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 942
I agree with the article: "For the average gamer, or even the non-gamer, the interface of any full featured RTS game is confusing, complex and unintuitive". For me it looks more like RTS games were forced to be used with mouse and keyboard controls, but multitouch input would be in many ways better. I could imagine that with two/three/four finger swipes and line drawing gestures you could control stategy games at a similar speed, but at the same time it would also be more easy for non-professional gamers.
05-04-2010, 10:35 AM
#6
Thats not a flaw in the RTS genre per se, just how developers are implementing it. There are certainly avenues you could take to make an RTS awesome, unique, and relatively simple on the iPad... it would just take a little planning and thought rather then just rehashing an existing UI and control scheme.
05-04-2010, 11:58 AM
#7
Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 337
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foursaken_Media View Post
Thats not a flaw in the RTS genre per se, just how developers are implementing it. There are certainly avenues you could take to make an RTS awesome, unique, and relatively simple on the iPad... it would just take a little planning and thought rather then just rehashing an existing UI and control scheme.
Thank you! Just like any new input device, whether it be the iPhone/iPad, Natal, Sony Move, whatever-- the question is not "how do I force an existing experience onto a new control scheme?" but "how do I leverage this control scheme to create a unique, fun experience?"

If you believe that RTS games have to conform to cliches established way back in 1992's Dune II, then I agree that you'll probably never be happy with an RTS on the iPad, just as many PC FPS gamers feel that their genre doesn't belong on consoles and handhelds. That's certainly your prerogative.

However, if your definition of RTS expands outside of that narrow implementation, I think there's a lot of promise inherent in touch screen devices. For instance, Robocalypse was (originally) designed specifically for the Nintendo DS and its unique hardware. We can argue whether their design is ultimately successful but I applaud the developers for having their priorities right.

As an unnecessary aside, I personally disagree that Starcraft II is the savior of the genre. I liken it to the God of War series-- it's an extremely well-polished version of familiar ideas. In playing the beta, it feels like...Starcraft. It's almost a love letter to the existing fanbase but does little to bring new players to the genre, except for the ones who are suckers for eye candy.
05-17-2010, 11:29 AM
#8
Joined: May 2010
Location: Lincoln, UK
Posts: 344
I loved Dune 2, but each subsequent RTS game went more and more complex with an arms race of numbers. Units, modes, buildings, etc. They followed the same paradigm, only appealing to those who had played previous games of the same type. So the genre stagnated. This is not a new experience in video games, it happened with fighting games, flight sims, etc.

Look at what the iPad offers, design to those strengths, do something new.
05-18-2010, 07:07 AM
#9
Joined: Mar 2010
Location: PA
Posts: 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saucepolicy View Post
As an unnecessary aside, I personally disagree that Starcraft II is the savior of the genre. I liken it to the God of War series-- it's an extremely well-polished version of familiar ideas. In playing the beta, it feels like...Starcraft. It's almost a love letter to the existing fanbase but does little to bring new players to the genre, except for the ones who are suckers for eye candy.
This is exactly what I felt when I wrote about SC2 myself! It's apparent they wanted SC, with pretty graphics. They did an excellent job of reaching that goal, but I was hoping for some innovation in the series.
06-08-2010, 09:59 PM
#10
RTS App

I am currently preparing to develop a RTS App for the iPad. It will be similar to the game Company of Heroes. To check out the website, go here (.com domain coming soon): www.wix.com/syncpro/synchronicity-programing

If you have any questions or concerns you can find my email there. Enjoy.