On large scale battles: Wow, that's cluttered.
My first impressions from the trailers are very mixed. I love the action. Absolutely LOVE it. But it looks like there's just... and I can't belive I'm saying this, but too much!
Maybe its because the art style of the game is somewhat cartoonish (WCIII cartoonish, not Toontown/Slyfox). This means sharp edges, and dark, burned backgrounds. Units just melded into eachother, or didn't visually process.
1:31-1:33, and 1:38-1:44 are perfect examples of that. At 1:35, Its hard to tell whos friend or foe besides direction.
But at 57-1:11, I absolutely loved it. It was beautiful, big, and awesome.
Though it will be hard to tell your infantry to rush in a seige battle, with that ridiculous long range of the weapons. the attacker just takes out the seige towers with his seige, then the archers, then the walls, and even the enemies rushing the army. Then you'll have the ability to move up your seige weapons to do your work for you. I can see this happening, especially with the statistics posted on the friday sessions.
Then controlling them...
So my main issues with what we've seen are these:
-Visual clutter makes it really hard to fully comprehend whats going on.
-Seige weapons look pretty over the top, and those defenses won't really do much-or will they?
-So many units, how do I control them ALL while still having control over my army?
I don't expect any full on answers to those questions, but I do want to bring these preliminary issues up.
On visual clutter, we really can't say yet. Those videos were made for cinematic appeal; it might actually be much clearer when looking at things from a bird's eye view. Certainly this is something that we'll talk about more in the beta, but until then we have little to go on.
For siege weapons, we've already been told that buildings leave rubble when destroyed, so you can't simply walk into a castle once you've pelted it with enough boulders. Siege are going to be a lot more challenging than that.
We've been told that the game will use a squad-based system, so units will be organized into small groups (between 5-20, the developers haven't confirmed the exact number yet) with heroes and large units (siege and monsters) being on their own.
It's amazing looking IMO. I mean, it looked kinda like the the battle from The Two Towers... if it was being played out by lego-men heh (The graphics aren't bad, just sayin')
As for the original poster, I wish I could comment but seems that's something only the devs would really know the answer to, the rest of us could only speculate. I imagine it being similar to the Total War series in the "clutter" aspect. I doubt many battles will be totally covered in units the way the video is, and i'd imagine it starting out with small armies and groups fighting and more as you get stronger, so it's something I think you would learn adn get used to as you grow.
Commenting on the issues I feel i can judge from here or from experience:
I totally disagree that the graphics are cartoony in a wc3 style way. I think wc3 units are intended to be very cartoony and DoF units are intended to be realistic. I won't dispute your other descriptions of the graphics but I have actually always been glad they are not cartoony in this game.
To the Reverie. team's credit, they do recognise openly in this forum that the in-game graphics don't match some other recent RTS titles.
So, with that said, we need to bare in mind that they are a brand new company working with far far less resources than the big game producers they are compeating with so they are doing their best (I know you are not disrespecting them but I wanted to point this out as something unavoidable).
One HUGE problem with the in-video graphics is that they are all scrolling shots. IE. the camera is always in mid-scroll when you are trying to get a look at the units, and even in wc3 the mid-scroll graphics are a blur. I think its a mistake not to include a lot of fixed camera shots in a video designed to advertise the game.
I don't agree that there is any more unit blending than in other recent RTS titles, but I do agree that its very hard to tell the teams apart on this video. Unless there is something I don't know then I think this needs to be fixed and the teams need to wear very obviously different colours, as in other RTS games, even at the expense of some realism.
I agree with some of what you have written here.
Reverie. have specified that they have put emphasis on quickly-gathered, huge numers of seige engines to give a faster pased RTS and avoid the slow siege battles found in other RTS.
However, I totally disagree with this analysis and have always found that siege engines in RTS destroy fortifications ridiculously and frustratingly quickly, with Age of Kings being the only exception to have made me feel that 1) castles were worth the money I spent on them and 2) I experienced a little actual siege warfare.
So, I can only assume this will be an aspect of the game I like even less than in other RTS.
From what I've read on wikipedia, large historic sieges involved the employment of 2 or 3 seige engines, which took weeks to break a section of castle wall for troops to storm.
Now, obviously 'weeks' is far too long, but reducing it to meer seconds doesn't provide any feeling of siege, so I don't think many RTS get the time compromise right for siege warfare.
Also, allowing 20 quick-build catapults for a 200 man army and levelling a wall in a few seconds seems too far from realism for me.
People do keep pointing out here "well this is a fantasy world so anything goes" but look.. that excuse is just too easy and can justify anything. Reverie is obviously putting a lot of effort into realism despite that obvious excuse so that line doesn't convince me.
I can't help worrying about that, but I think its because I've got used to wc3's ridiculous 12-unit selection limit.
Remembering back to Age of Empires where you could select something like 30 units at a time I feel more relaxed because you can probably select a hell of a lot more in this game.
This does mean that unit micro won't be anything like wc3 and it will be more about roughly controlling the army as a whole, but I think thats great.
It actually seems more realistic to me, thinking of the vague control a general would have over hundreds of men who can't hear his voice and just have to go by basic flag signals ordering them into approximate positions and following their training for various situations (in this case, their AI).
As Zach has pointed out, Total War obvious pulls it off. I have a feeling DoF will too.
PS. ^^ I don't agree that the siege range is too long. The game is pretty much to scale, and trebuchets normally had a range of around 300 metres.
"One HUGE problem with the in-video graphics is that they are all scrolling shots. IE. the camera is always in mid-scroll when you are trying to get a look at the units, and even in wc3 the mid-scroll graphics are a blur. I think its a mistake not to include a lot of fixed camera shots in a video designed to advertise the game."
I find that actually has a lot more to do with your monitor than anything else, especially if you use a TV screen (xbox etc). Most monitors I have don't have trouble with this at all, but some do. So things going blurry in games seems to be more about that than the game itself. I never had problems with that in WC3 with the monitors I used at the time.
We need some deterrents to combat that- I'd suggest something like making Seige AoE damage do friendly fire, or damaging essential buildings to the point of destruction and definitly repair.
Actually, defenders get plots to mann defensive seige on their walls. According to a recent fantasy friday, they have even longer range than their mobile counterparts. Some food for thought ;)
As for confusion-any game would look confusing in these sorts of unit-view-scrolling camera that the video is made of. I'm pretty sure it'll look different from the bird's eye view-just look at the screenshot section at Dawn of Fantasy Heaven or Source. Both show most of the shots revealed, and they look much simpler. You could also take a look at the Fantsy Fridays or the Monthly Media (archives).
Also-yeah. We won't be controlling 1000 unit armies right off the bat-keep that in mind. It's likely we'll have at most a couple hundred by the time we finish the first combat quests, but that's still much easier to handle than those shots. I imagine mmorts will gradually step it up in the # of units needed to complete a quest, not all at once.
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