I’m assuming most of you have already read Brad/Frogboy’s excellent GalCiv2 post: A Case Against Multiplayer. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do as there is no point repeating what has already been said.
I would like to extend the concepts of that post beyond multiplayer to include real-time gameplay too. Much of the rationale behind no multiplayer also directly supports no real-time play. Multiplayer and real-time are directly related. The whole difficulty in making a turn-based game multiplayer is precisely that: the timing. How to synchonize people working at a different pace without making them wait? One of the best solutions is to make time a constant. Enter real-time games.
Not only does real-time solve multiplayer problems, but the constant flow of time means animation works fluidly too! Huzzah! Along with multiplayer, we can now also indulge is awesome eye-candy like an interactive movie! There is a reason that RTS has become so popular…
The problem with real-time games is that the depth of strategic and/or tactial play suffers considerably. Once again, rather than re-iterating, please read the aformentioned post to get some examples as to why – there are many.
But, depth of play is precisely where turn-based game shine! They not only promote smart thinking over fast thinking – they also allow us the time to really savour our decisions and accomplishments! This to me is a big part of the “just one more turn” addiction phenomenon.
As I, and many others, have said before: Real-time with pause is not the same as turn-based. By accomodating multiplayer and cinematic animations, I believe real-time gameplay elements are likely to be involved in the equasion. If this is true, then I fear that the net result may be that we’ll be forced to play closer to the shallow end of the pool.
I know we’re only talking about the tactical component of the game here. But, personally I want the game to be as tactially deep as it is strategically. That's my beef with the Total War series. Tactially, it feels like trying to herd cats and hoping for the best. I'd argue it's not the best of both worlds, it's precisely the opposite - a watered down middle ground. There are better RTS games our there and better TBS ones too.
If there were as many good TBS games on the market as RTS games I probably wouldn’t be so concerned. But Stardock is one of the last few still at it – and they’re really good at it! While I’m quite confident that they’ll be good at making a hybrid game too, my worry is not the quality of the outcome, it’s the style.
Now this may be a totally moot post as we haven't yet seen what they are up to. If they can innovate and push TBS forward or even create a hybrid without succuming to the traditional pitfalls of RTS then that's fantastic! But, because I have such high hopes for this game, I can't help but get a tad nervous when I hear things like "from “turns” to real time" as it conjures up images of Total War for me (even if that's not at all what they really have in mind).
So Stardock FWIW, as one of the last trustees of TBS, please don’t be too tempted away from depth of play in the pursuit of workable multiplayer and cinematic eye candy.
Thanks for the ear! There… I feel better now Cheers, -J.