Over the past couple of weeks I’ve found myself lost in the universe of StarCraft II. I know it took me quite a while to get on board with this game (needing a decent computer being why), but when I did I found myself totally sucked into the never-ending battle between the Terrens, Zerg, and Protoss. All my life I’ve found that I’m what one would call a slight more than casual RTS player and have always enjoyed games from the genre, with WarCraft III being the RTS that I have spent the most time with, both competitively and in single player. I’ve also enjoyed games outside of the Blizzard realm messing around with Command and Conquer games and Warhammer.
For those of you who are unaware what RTS games are, here’s a brief overview. RTS stands for Real Time Strategy and the standard objective of the games is to use resources like food and money to build up a base and army in which you use to defeat your opponent. Some like StarCraft focus on creating a good economy to build the best army, others like WarHammer don’t put much emphasis on economy building and focus more on attack strategy. Everything is done in real game time as opposed to games such as Civilization and Advance Wars where it has the same basic concept, but is turn based allowing you to spend time thinking about your next move. The real time aspect makes these games extremely high paced as your mind runs at a million mile a second adjusting to the current situation by coming up with counter attacks or and attempting to follow through with your initial strategy.
RTS game are almost exclusively played on PCs given the control scheme needed to play effectively. The mouse is needed for quickly selecting units, spots to move or attack, which building to select, and so on and so forth. With the keyboard you can use hot keys to execute many different actions, such as selecting and setting control groups (groups of units which you predetermine), using the ‘A’ key to select attack so you mouse doesn’t have to make 2 moves giving you quicker control, etc. Without those 2 things working in conjunction with each other, RTS games are near unplayable. Hence why you don’t see many RTSs on consoles or when they do make it over they never succeed. A standard console controller just doesn’t suit the need of fast, precise, and varied input that a mouse and keyboard can provide.
But why should PC gamers only get to enjoy the loads of fun that RTS games are, surely there must be a way to make one fun and playable on consoles. Halo Wars on Xbox almost had it, but in order to get the game to work on the controller, gameplay had to be dumbed down to make it playable. That’s no fun. Well, I have an idea (which I’m sure some developer has thought of well before me and is already working on it somehow) that may make RTS games playable on consoles. It would be a totally different experience than what a PC RTS gamer would get but the idea is based around how the keyboard and mouse work to make the games playable at high intensity and fast paced levels. First off you take the game controller, hold it in your hand tightly, turn towards the window, and toss that sucker right out of it. I bet you see where this is going to go now ;)