Usually applied only to certain computer strategy games, the moniker "real-time strategy" (RTS) indicates that the action in the game is continuous, and players will have to make their decisions and actions within the backdrop of a constantly changing game state, and computer real-time strategy gameplay is characterised by obtaining resources, building bases, researching technologies and producing units. Very few non-computer strategy games are real-time; one example is Icehouse.
Some players dispute the importance of Strategy in Real Time Strategy games, as skill and manual dexterity are often seen as the deciding factor in this genre of game. According to Troy Dunniway, "A player controls hundreds of units, dozens of buildings and many different events that are all happening simultaneously. There is only one player, and he can only pay attention to one thing at a time. Expert players can quickly flip between many different tasks, while casual gamers have more problems with this." Ernest Adams goes so far as to suggest that real-time gameplay interferes with strategy. "Strategic thinking, at least in the arena of gameplay, does not lend itself well to real-time action".
Many strategy players claim that many RTS games really should be labeled as "Real-Time Tactical" (RTT) games since the game play revolves entirely around tactics, with little or even no strategy involved. Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs or MMOs) in particular have had a difficult time implementing strategy since having strategy implies some mechanism for "winning". MMOs, by their nature, are typically designed to be never-ending. Nevertheless, some games are attempting to "crack the code," so-to-speak, of the true real-time strategy MMOG. One method by which they are doing so is by making defenses stronger than the weapons, thereby slowing down combat considerably and making it possible for players to more carefully consider their actions during a confrontation. Customizable units are another way of adding strategic elements, as long as players are truly able to influence the capabilities of their units. The industry is seeking to present new candidates worthy of being known for "thought strategy" rather than "dexterity strategy".
While Herzog Zwei is regarded as the first true RTS game, the defining title for the genre was Westwood Studios's Dune II, which was followed by their seminal Command & Conquer games. Cavedog's Total Annihilation (1997), Blizzard's Warcraft (1994) series, StarCraft (1998), and Ensemble Studios' Age of Empires (1997) series are some of the most popular RTS games. In addition, online games such as NukeZone can be considered belonging in this genre as well.
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“The best strategy in life is diligence.”