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StrategyPlanet | Articles | Are Real Time Strategy Games At Their Peak?
by Shaka | May 9th, 2001

"Age of Kings and it's expansion were both hugely successful Real Time Strategy games. But many would ask if this is the best the RTS world can get."
It all started with Herzog Zwei for the Sega Genesis. The idea of controlling units other than yourself to destroy enemy bases seemed rather simple. And in practice; it was. This game outlined the basic criteria for an RTS that many developers still use today. Build units that cost resources to strengthen your army, then unleash them onto your opponent, suspecting or not. Many elements such as this are still with us today -- unchanged since the beginning.

However, many things in the RTS genre have radically changed. Gone are the days of not being able to repair your base once it has been damaged. You are no longer stuck with using a unit just as it is. You can customize what the developers originally gave to you, by upgrading your units. Races and civilizations were created, spicing things up by not having every player be exactly the same. And of course, a list such as this would never be complete without including a multiplayer funcion, allowing you to battle it out with allies and opponents from all corners of the world.

"Black and White has added an interesting twist the RTS genre, by adding a god-like role to you, the player."
A great new innovation in RTS gaming was the the idea of being able to research technologies that would give your "civilization" benefits in certain areas. One of the earlier games to do this was Starcraft, allowing you to power up different aspects of your army, depending on whichever you felt was more important. But some would have you believe that this is beginning to go a little too far. Compare the original "Age of Empires" to the impending "Empire Earth". Age of Empires had around 100 technologies which seemed massive at the time. Now, EE developers are promising over 200 units and a whopping 500 technologies. Seems like it's getting a little complex right? Wrong. Adding technologies doesn't complicate things, it simply adds to the customizability. And customizability is a good thing.

"Starcraft was one of the first games to use the upgradable unit system. It also redifined some of the exisiting RTS rules."
Many would say that where we are right now is where RTS developers are going to stop. There are no more things to invent, or innovative ideas that will come along. "The only things to do are to add more units and techs, and support more people on multiplayer, that's hardly enough to keep people coming back for more". All I can say is, you are far too misinformed. Look at how something as simple as adding the third dimension is adding to the gameplay of Empire Earth. Units can now take cover behind walls to evade enemy fire. It is adding more strategy to the whole strategy genre. A new blend of genres is breathing new life into the RTS world. Warcraft 3 for example, promises to deliver a mix of Roleplaying, and Strategy. In this case, you get the best of both worlds. Let's not forget the handful of titles that ventured out and mixed together First Person Shooters and Strategy. These mixes of games are virtually breaking down any barriers, and soon it will be difficult to categorize games as different types.

"The upcoming Empire Earth is offering a massive amount of technology. But is that enough to keep the genre growing?"
The future looks promosing with many new titles coming out, each looking more and more innovative. As mentioned earlier, Warcraft 3 is ambitiously different. Games including Empire Earth, Age of Mythology, Emporer: Battle for Dune, are all taking the plunge into 3d. Black and White, which was recently released, combines a "God" like game, and stirs the basic strategy elements into it. All these things were never thought possible before. Where will RTS's be in the next few years? The sky is the limit, my friend.

Related Links:
Planet Age of Empires
Planet Black and White
Empire Earth X
Empire Earth Official Site
Black and White Official Site
StarCraft Official Site
Age of Empires Official Site

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