Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Writing for Real-Time Strategy
Stephen Dinehart
7.1 Genesis
In 1992, a company started by Louis Castle and Brett Sperry, then called Westwood
Studios, released a game titled Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty .Thegameplaywas
in the epic style of traditional wargames past like those from publisher Avalon Hill—
specifically their game Dune . Dune allows up to six players to select a race, build a
stronghold, and attack their opponents for resources and power. The object of the
game is to seize opponents' strongholds. This is only possible with a player-driven
strategy of economics, military, religion, and treacherous diplomacy. The Dune II
video game also had one primary innovation. Rather than the turn-based systems
of the Avalon Hill games, Dune II is meant to be occurring in “real time,” that is,
without turns.
The real-time elements centered around three major activities: building and up-
grading units and strongholds, managing and gathering resources for military and
industrial needs, and, finally, combat with opponents. Dune II is unofficially the first
real-time strategy (RTS) game, though it did have one predecessor, a little-known ti-
tle called Herzog Zwei in which the player commanded individual units in an effort
to destroy his opponent's base.
Wargames give the player vast agency in the direction of armies on battle maps.
The game type arguably has its roots in the ancient Indian board game of chatu-
ranga, but the rebirth of wargaming came when it was first defined as a pastime by
the infamous H. G. Wells in his book Little Wars . Published in 1913, the topic
contains the description of a basic rule set for wargames waged with miniature sol-
diersonaparlorfloor(itisavailableforfreeontheWeb). InRTSgames,such
as Dune II ,itisasifH.G.Wells' Little Wars hadcometolifeforplayers,not
in the parlor but on the screen. This perspective is neither third person nor om-
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