Last week, I was on a couple podcast that I frequently haunt. I joined Troy Goodfellow and Bruce Geryk on Three Moves Ahead to discuss the excellent recent iOS wargame Drive on Moscow. (Listen for my reference to noted game designer “Bruce” Reynolds.) I also discussed conflict in games on The Game Design Round Table with Jon Shafer and Dirk Knemeyer, which meant lots of talk about Diplomacy as well as why two-sided games are fundamentally different from multi-sided ones.
This is about you game Mars. When I first heard about it I thought it was finally going to be a good RTS to come out. The part in the announcement talking about the number of resources and that the game was like 70/30 for economics and attacking. This seemed like a really fresh idea and sounded very exciting. After each time hearing you talk about the game in different interviews my excitement drops. You talk about how its too hard for gamers to keep track of their units and how its no fun to micro manage so the game would be stream lined. You made it sound like the gamer would be doing very little and the rest would all be automated. As you said that laying train tracks down would be tedious and to hard, I think that would be a great addition to the game. Especially since it seems like the ratio is 100/0 for economics and combat besides some espionage. I know I can’t see the whole picture yet because the I’ve only heard what you’ve mentioned so far about the game but please do make it like warhammer 2 or star craft 2 where the game focuses on one thing, combat and in Mars case economics, and has nothing else. This makes for a very boring game. Have some micromanaging. The people who play RTS games for combat may not like it but the ones who play RTS games for the city building and such will. Plus hopefully the actual ratio is at least 80/20. Could you imagine going up to you opponents train track and bombing it stoping them from getting supplies to their city….
Honestly, it’s been hard for us to describe the game because it’s so unlike anything else we’ve ever played. Unit micro-management, for example, can be ok if combat tactics are the focus of the game. Indeed, most game have micro-management of some kind, whether the designer intended that or not, simply because the best players find some way to eke out a small advantage that multiplies over time. In our test games, there are always PLENTY of things to do at any one time, especially via managing the open commodity market. Being able to buy or sell twelve resources at any time, with prices constantly fluctuating up and down, allows for a great deal of skill differentiation. These resources are also needed to upgrade the colony and construct more buildings, so finding a way to make a profit on some resources to buy other ones can give a player a huge lead. Hope that helps your understand!