“Random” in C&C-style RTS

I really should post stuff when they comes to mind. Several topics have gone through my head the last days, and I could’ve posted about them. It wouldn’t be that good posts, perhaps, but it would make this blog seem more active. Anyway, I found a topic yesterday that I just *had* to write about: The choice of random in RTS.

This might seem like a small thing, but most of it is unused potential. Before a match starts, you’re in that lobby-window with everyone else. Sometimes you can choose the map in that room, sometimes the map is chosen before that room is created. But always, always, you choose a faction that is displayed in public. And there’s a random option for faction, but not map. And you can’t pick between which to random. That’s what the rest of this post wll be about.

Because, I find this being a problem in the beginning of RTS-matches. If you know which faction the opponent is, you tend to know which tactic s/he’s likely to use. And know how to make your first move yourself. If you play with a friend with the same factions, you learn each others’ tactic(s) and it ends up being a race to the winning-point. If you’ve played the selected map more then your opponent, you’ve got the advantage of experience. So, what’s my suggestion to fix what I say is a problem?

When a match starts, no players faction is shown. In the saved space, a list of the faction with check-boxes are displayed. By un/checking a box, you add or remove it from the list of faction you random among when the game starts (with un/select all). This makes you able to truly random your faction, random except for some you don’t want to be or set your faction as you wish without any opponents knowing. And no map is shown, with similar check boxes randomizing the up-coming map (one box per map available to the choice of game mode). You can change these last, too, even if you’re not the server-host. All the players’ preferences add up before the game starts into a pool where multiples can exist. More players adding a map increases it’s chances of appearing. Possibly even a “create randomized map”-option can exists in the map-window (you should be able to save it if it’s fun – nothing is as frustrating as playing a really fun map to never see it again). This makes it even more important to scout the map and the opponents on game start then it already is, as you have to know who the opponents play as and how you should use the map.

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