RTS Game Economies – Innovative Models & Ideas

Greetings fellow gamers!

It has been a long while since I’ve written blog post. I have not had much time to come up with a decent blog post topic amidst a mountain of schoolwork. Thankfully, I am currently in the middle of the Thanksgiving Break so I can afford to write! As a student of Economics, I have always been fascinated by in-game economies of my favorite games. I was first introduced to the concept of resource management when I began playing StarCraft and Warcraft III. Collecting minerals and vespene gas in the case of StarCraft and collecting gold and wood in Warcraft III stimulated my economic senses.

sc2econ
SCVs collect minerals and gas from the map. These are essential to keep your army going!
wc3econ
Gold and Wood – Warcraft III adds a new risk to collecting resources – there are creeps or monsters that populate these resource points! – Troll Berserkers sleeping near a gold mine!

Yet these simple economic models became kind of boring when I got used to them. I started to look for games that had more innovative and more strategic economy systems that had close connections to the map terrain and to other elements. In this post, I want to present to you guys 3 interesting resource management/economy system models:

 

임진록 2+ 조선의 반격 or Seven Years War 2+: Chosun’s Counterattack

sywar2plus_intro
This game is based on a historical event that involved Korea (or Chosun), Japan and China (Ming Dynasty). Japan invaded Korea in 1592 and this game explores an alternative historical scenario. What you see here in this image is a Korean base with HQs, barracks and stables.

What I like about this game is that you have two sources of “mineral” or “gold”. You need to collect rice or potatoes to be able to produce both basic and advanced units. It is not possible for you to collect rice again once it has been collected; however, potatoes grow back after sufficient rain. This sort of dynamism creates a fierce conflict between players as they attempt to seize territories rich with potatoes if they expect a long drawn-out war. Same applies to “wood”. There are two types of wood in the game – normal and bamboo. Bamboo trees grow back after rain.

sywar2_food
Top Left shows you bamboo trees that can grow back again. Top center light brown patch of land shows depleted rice fields. On the right, you see green plants growing on the ground – these are potatoes, which you can harvest again later IF there is plenty of rain.

I really recommend this game to those players who want to experience how dynamic weather can affect their resource economies. Oh I almost forgot, if there is a fire (either created naturally or artificially), it can burn through rice fields, potato fields and forests. This opens up rather devious opportunities for you and your enemies to use fire to ruin each other’s economy. When using fire, you need to pay attention to that the compass arrow on the bottom, which indicates the wind direction.

 

Company of Heroes 1 & 2

I have already spoken about these two great games several times in my previous posts. What really appealed to me was how resource income depended on your amount of map control and that these resource points were connected back to your starting HQ. Cutting off isolated regions from the HQ will deny your enemies the resource income. This sort of strategic economy model fits perfectly with the spirit of WW2 warfare.

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The Blue has cut off the red territories on the left side of the map. This forces the Red to respond quickly as it would significantly reduce his resource income.

Manpower is probably the most important resource in the game. Without manpower, you cannot even recruit your most basic infantry squads. This resource decreases as you produce more units over time and you need to manage this resource well as your depleted squads need constant reinforcements.

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American Fuel Point – Fuel is very important for vehicle production and certain factions have a higher dependence on this resource e.g. Panzer Elite.
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American Munitions Point – Munitions are needed for upgrading your troops with weapons and using doctrine-specific abilities like off-map artillery strikes.
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American General Strategic Point – These points are also known as plain points that only give you manpower. In CoH 2, these points give you a small amount of munitions and fuel rather than manpower.

 

Primitive Wars (쥬라기 원시전)

I included this game to my list because it adds an interesting hunting element. The game is based on a fictitious world where primitive humans, intelligent dinosaur mutants, elves and demons war with each other. Due to its temporal setting in the primitive era, all races can engage in hunting to collect dinosaur meat, which is used to heal units over time. Each unit can have its own personal “meat storage”.

dinowars
I see three triceratops, two velociraptors and others. All these animals can be hunted to collect meat. Obviously, the larger the dinosaur, the more meat you will harvest.

 

CONCLUSION

I hope that more RTS game producers come up with highly innovative resource models that connect different elements of the game together to deliver a more memorable gameplay experience. In my opinion, the age of simple in-game economies is over. For my next article, I want to express a serious concern I have for World of Tanks Blitz.

 

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