Strange Attractor

Developing an RTS game is not only the code and art. Game design is a big thing too. I’m subscribed to a lot of newsfeeds from many game related sites and blogs. RTS games are quite rare today. Reading I have stumbled upon a new interesting term, which inspired me to write an article.

The term in question is – “Strange Attractor” (SA for short). Quoting Terry Rossio (blog), he describes the SA as follows:

Put ‘strange’ (meaning ‘unique’) and ‘attractor’ (from ‘attractive,’ meaning ‘compelling’) together and you get ‘strange attractor,’ or ‘something unique that is also compelling.

There must be some aspect that is compelling, enticing, and intriguing.

You could call it a hook, or a gimmick, or a twist. Hollywood sometimes calls it a ‘high concept’ — an idea for a movie that can be stated in one or two sentences.

In other words, SA concept says that many interesting movies are born from two parents – Strange and Attractive. We take something familiar and attractive to us and add something strange and unique. The form could be simplified down to one sentence actually – “The game like A, but with B”.

Classic examples would be:

  • The game like Dune II, but with orcs vs. humans – Warcraft.
  • The game like Warcraft II but in space – Starcraft.
  • The game like GTA but about mafia – Mafia.
  • The game like SimCity but made the way it is meant to be – Cities: Skylines.
  • The game like Diablo but based on ancient history – Titans Quest.
  • The game like Warcraft III but with a single map – DOTA.
  • The game like Wolfenstein 3D but against demons on Mars – Doom.

There are more examples from around Settlers-like games too. I use the term Settlers-like to describe an RTS game mainly focused on town-building with variety of resources and production chains (those are often called German-school RTS). Let’s list some:

The Settlers-like game:

  • .. but about pirates – Tropico
  • .. but with trading – Anno
  • .. but about defending a castle – Stronghold
  • .. but suited for offline play – Settlers Online
  • .. but with proper army control – Knights and Merchants

Now here’s a thought – what can SA bring to KP? One can argue 3D is enough of a change, but today 3D is “Attractive”, not “Strange”. Here are my thought on the matter. The game like classic German-school RTS:

  • .. but against undead. There could be a new undead race competing with humans. As big as like orcs in Warcraft.
  • .. but fast-paced. How about cutting the typical match from 75 min down to 30?
  • .. but turn-based. Crazy thought.
  • .. but MMO. Not our scale sadly.
  • .. but up to modern GUI standards. Meaning 3D and user interface interaction.
  • .. but casual. No roads, no deliveries, just production and army. I don’t like this idea.
  • .. but filled with gore and evil. Something alike Diablo 1 atmosphere. Meh..
  • .. but with ..
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17 Responses to Strange Attractor

  1. Neo7k says:

    Happy undeads!!!

  2. sado says:

    -but with shooter elements! xD

    I always wanted to see a game fun like KaM, but more welcoming for the casuals than our usual x1 60pt mechanics – like, 20 minutes of building/PT should be enough to have enough leather/tier 2 army + starting to get iron army, or something like that. So we jump straight to fighting. This would need some radical change, like buildings in general (especially farms) being quick and easy to build at the start, yet needing more time to work later on. Perhaps – speaking in KaM terms – make no forests (or make them very small) but give the player a lot of wood at start? Make leather quick to make (like 1 tannery 1 armor workshop) but need more buildings to make it work well? Etc.

  3. sado says:

    Also, if somebody would ever make a “medieval knight-ish Europe meets not-so-technologically-advanced aliens from outer space” RTS… 😀

  4. The Dark Lord says:

    I would definitely go for more fast-paced gameplay.

  5. Thibmo says:

    Very interesting topic, indeed.
    Maybe a few ideas to throw into the batch:
    * Building upgrading > Produces goods faster but costs more then a new building More tactical decisions to make per map.
    * Possibility to trade in-between players.
    * Online and/or LAN co-op campaign.
    * The ability to choose a different race. (Rules out some of these modern-day hypes, I’d love to explain this in detail when requested.)
    * Having only realistic weapons/arms, unlike most of those games. (Age of Empires with their rocket-launcher-cars… *Sigh*)
    * Maybe implementing the use of animals as well, which was a common thing in those days, eg hunting dogs, elephants, tigers, etc. (Might be a touchy subject for some people, yet brings realistic battle tactics of those days in the game.)
    * Weather effects/plagues for RPG type maps? > New game mode with added difficulty but fewer enemy attacks Game becomes enjoyable for a wider range of audience. ~ Looks like Bannished® but with battles.

  6. Ray says:

    But with multiple eras.

  7. Zombie says:

    Another race would be damn sweet.
    I can already imagine the campaign:

    Your kingdom is suddenly under attack by what used to be a friendly neighbor kingdom. After you defeat him you find out that more kingdoms have become hostile and are destroying innocent villages and such. You fight to save the innocent and the more you fight the more you come to realise there is a plague going around. The plague changes people, they become obsessed with power. Dark powers are at work here and you need to find the people who unleashed this plague. There is a rumor that in the far north there are warlock at work with dark magic. when you go more north you stop finding people, instead you find villages, towns, castles all full with undead zombies and walking skeletons. Further north are the warlocks, and they have summoned a whole army of undead.

    Even if they are undead, a certain things are required for them to live. You need a graveyard to create recruits, you need a slaughterhouse for them to eat, instead of grain they farm brains or something.
    To basiaclly what the humans have but with a grim spin to it.
    And you could give slight differences, like the undead need slightly less food but human serves walk slightly faster if they are fed enough.

    It doesn’t have to be undead, but another race would defo add to the game.

  8. Vitaliy says:

    I would suggest to make a huge up map on the similarity of Knights of Honor.
    Do not add any that futuristic races, and make it more realistic and various nations with their existing features medieval armies and lifestyle.
    For example: English – long siege archers , more powerful attack and firing range .
    Instead wines are grown and consumed tea ( why not :)) 1 tea.
    The Germans – more armor and more powerful heavy cavalry attack .
    Instead of wine – beer barrel 1 instead of 2 or 3 ( in large numbers ) .
    French – more powerful militia.
    It remains to wine, but instead of bread baguette bread say 4 instead of 2 (why not) .
    And just add water and ships with proper buildings and units.
    Perhaps the most interesting thing to take with other games and do something own.
    As I said map – Knights of Honor
    The variety of nations – Civilization.
    And also make a normal battles armies.
    For example: Make each unit as a combat and citizens and workers of 3 points of life. Cavalry troops add another 2 points for the horse.
    1 hit point (100%), 1 infantry attack (-50%), 1 attack on the cavalry (-100%), the shield (to protect 50% of the attack)
    If we consider directly CAM, then
    Militia- 2 attack. (Thus killing a Citizens or other Militias in 3 attacks)
    Walking warrior – 2 attack and a 1 shield. The Militias therefore kill Walking warrior 6 attacks.
    And Pikeman – 1 attack against infantry, 3 attack against cavalry, 1 shield.
    Pikeman kill militia for 6 attacks, but Cavalry (2 attacks, 1 shield), he kills 4 attack, even with the 5 points of its life.
    And so on, can be added such as the chance to kill with one blow (1 – 2% impact)
    kind of like Archer hit in the head or head cut down a Cavalry on the move, or Barbarian slashed in half its poleaxe. I do not think that modern computers it is too inconveniently to calculate.
    And lastly I want to add that this is purely my desire that I would like to see in the game.
    Dear Krom, spoil the game added to the game zombies or aliens, or other fantasy nation is easy, but to make the game a cult and for centuries as a KaM harder choice is ultimately up to you both for the developer and inspirer, but don’t be quick to the final decision.
    Thank you for the opportunity to present my ideas , and I Can not find the place on the page where to post it , these reflections on the game.

  9. Kantona says:

    At least make the tiny little solo trees into a large area of land covered with trees or other woody vegetation (forests) 😀 great ideas above me tho ^

    for me: no aliens or zombies

  10. caykroyd says:

    …but with very large cities and maps.

  11. Rhaenon says:

    But not in the medieval nor future ages. How about the renaissance. Although, that would be a bit like Anno. Let’s say fantasy renaissance then.

  12. Veysel Kara says:

    Day&Night circle since you have 3d assets. And related content to that. For gathering, army etc. Also im wondering how you gonna deal with ambiance of game. Lights, shadows and their colours. Looking forward for more updates. Video please 😀

  13. KingCornfield says:

    With none female agents! Rule a mens world: easy understanding (grunt, ugh), healthy food (beer, ham, steak), and social (“Just the one time we’ve fought a war. Oh dear, 10000 men died in shivering-bolt skeleton. *haha*).
    😀

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