First of all, I'm sorry about the wall of text that will follow, but I'll try to dividing it into sections, so that you can easily skip anything you don't want to read.
Second, this might be seen as promoting a game, but I won't be able to avoid that since I'm going to tell you quite a few things about the game we're making. But I'm not trying to sell it to you (at least not yet), our planned release is still over a year from now.
I'm a great fan of RTS games with a focus on realism. My probably all-time favourite games were the Close Combat game series, which in my opinion did come close to providing realistic settings and unit behaviour (given the technical possibilites back then in the 90s).
For several years now, I've been waiting for that perfect, tactical RTS. Sometimes I've had my hopes up when a new game was released, but I've always been dissapointed in the end.
About two years ago, I got tired of waiting for that perfect game and realized that I had no business complaining unless I tried to do something about it myself. So I started planning for the creation of what was originally meant to be just a re-make of those Close Combat favourites of mine, together with a few other RTS fans and friends of mine, some of which were fairly skilled software developers.
About one year ago, we made a first test to see if we had what it would take to form a team and create the game in question. We did a some testing in different game engines and came to the conclusion that our ideas were not at all impossible to realize. So we decided to give it a go and went back to the drawing table to plan the project. Meanwhile, the ideas kept coming and we found ourselves having to limit ourselves some in order to keep the whole thing doable.
Now, a year later, we've finished the planning, secured some funding, created a test environment to test the subject, recruited some external resources and recently begun the actual work on the project.
Game concept and present status
The game, working title TacOps, is all about tactical combat in modern times. The player will take command of a company-sized battlegroup and engage the enemy on the field of battle. The gaming system is built around the principle that the player issues orders to his squad-level units (or individual vehicles), which in turn translates the orders into individual orders for each soldier (or crewmember in vehicles). The actual carrying out is then left to the AI of each individual soldier, who will try to carry out his orders to the best of his ability.
One thing that was very important to us was that soldiers are human beings. As such, they will not blindly follow orders regardless of the situation and events unfolding around them. If a soldier is order to hold fire and keep quiet, he'll be sure to ignore that order and open fire if an anamy suddenly appears in fron of him. If a soldier is ordered to walk uprigth ans slowly across a field, he will definitely ignore that order and throw himself flat on the ground if suddenly fired upon.
Another very important issue for us was that of unit production. With very few historical exceptions (to preempt anyone who feel the urge to cry out "Stalingrad!"), there will not be factories on a battlefield that produce military units right into a fight. Neither will you have the possibility to "purchase" just the right units at just the right time. In war, you have the resources at your disposal and have to make do with those. There might be reinforcements available, but very rarely in the form of completely unexpected ones suddenly appearing from nowhere.
One thing that came to us in the planning process was the idea that most RTS players have their own favourite force, or side, in each game. In most games, you simply have to choose from the forces available in that game, with the possibility of paying for additional units in the form of game addons. This is, in our opinion, something that should be expanded upon and we decided to do just that in the game we're making. So, instead of creating a premium priced game with a few different "factions" included and another few available for purchase, we decided to make a game that ships with just a few different factions at an affordable price, but to create a large number of low priced addon units in the form of individual companies, modeled after real-world units. This means that players are not likely to aquire all of the addons, but rather just those that the player prefers to play (and perhaps a few hostile units for single player game opponents).
So... The grand goal is to create addon units and terrains representing more or less every fighting force and region in the world. We're aware that the goal is impossible, but we're going to begin with the most "popular" forces and keep adding more units until there's no longer a demand for them. Some countries or factions will have more units than others (there'll most likely be more US unit types than, let's say, Albanian ones), but if you would prefer to play with units from a Lithuanian infantry battallion, you should be able to. It will also mean that the base game, with the right addon units, can be used to simulate fighting between any countries or factions, in any imaginable conflict, anywhere in the world. Now imagine that as a setting for an RTS!
Now finally, the question from the subject line...
That brings me to my original question. We have had a lot of ideas for this game and have taken quite a few of them to the phase of actual implementation in the game, while others have had to be discarded. But no matter how many ideas we've had and evaluated, we do not presume to have had them all. So, given the premises of the game concept as given above, what would YOU like to see in a tactical RTS focusing on realism? ANd if you have an idea that would fit with the concept, would you be willing to join us and make it a part of the game?
If you want some more info on the project, there's some info available at http://tacops.indiespel.se.
If you have an idea or a question, you're welcome to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.