Game Development Reference
Figure 7.4. Company of Heroes . c
2006 THQ Inc.
have the support of “in-game” narrative events, these linear moments are where pri-
mary characters, whether on or off the battlefield, are shaped.
Non-player character (NPC) and player character (PC) avatars are used in RTS,
like any other game story, as a means to communicate with the player and create
drama. Due to the unique circumstances found in RTS, i.e., rampant virtual death,
the use of representational protagonists wasn't seen until the hero characters (HC) of
third-generation RTS. The introduction of HC inevitably brought a third-person
role-playing game (RPG) “lite” experience along with it. Hero characters “level
up” and provide a traditional central character, or protagonist (primary competi-
tor), around which to construct a story. The problem is they tend to die, and in ways
developers can't easily predict. Needless to say, the death of a primary protagonist
can prove a big problem for a story. To overcome recurrent death on the battlefield,
explanations had to be created. In the case of Warcraft III , temples were woven into
the tapestry of the command structures and used to “summon” heroes back to the
battlefield in the event of “death.” It is for this reason that in Company of Heroes
and other RTS games the primary antagonists and protagonists take center stage in
non-interactive sequences and during gameplay fade into the “background,” living
perhaps only in speech, in an effort to maintain the suspension of disbelief.