Sins of a Solar Empire developers Ironclad games recently claimed that the RTS genre was “a dying market” and had been relegated to a niche interest. Well, Stardock’s CEO Brad Wardell isn’t going to take that lying down, and has hit back in a post on his own blog that claims RTS games are simply waiting for technology to advance enough for them to be able to try something new.
“So what about real-time strategy games? Why has their design stagnated?” asks Wardell. “The answer is that developers have pushed their designs about as far as they can go with the current hardware. We’ve been stuck with a 2GB memory limit for over a decade and limited to 2 or less processors (cores) for longer than that.”
Wardell mentions that as a publisher, he sees that innovative RTS game designs still cross his desk — but they’re just technically completely infeasible and won’t sell. “Their design requirements revolve around a player with DirectX 11, a 64-bit Windows OS and 4 cores (minimum),” he says. “They could do their innovative design with much lower visual fidelity and get most of what they want but then it becomes a ‘budget’ title.”
“We’ve been through two phases of RTS’s already. The first phase was the DOS and early Windows era games. Dune, Warcraft 1/2, Dark Reign, Starcraft. Sprite Based. The first game of the second phase I’d argue was Total Annihilation. Even though it didn’t make use of 3D hardware, it was the first game to deliver real-time rendered units. Think of the second phase as the age of 32-bit, 3D RTSs. Supreme Commander, Warcraft 3, Sins of a Solar Empire, Starcraft 2.”
“The third phase games can be broadly described by the technology under them: 64-bit memory, massively multithreaded. And these 3rd phase RTSs will be breathtakingly beautiful to look at, have amazing scope and micro AI (sophisticated rules for units interacting with one another without human involvement) that is astounding.”
Source: Little Tiny Frogs