Queue as planning - wiki concept?

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#1 Edited by Trylks (983 posts) -

I think this should be a concept in the wiki and something more common in games. It's not particularly rare, I guess we can think of several games with this mechanic, but this should be the norm, IMHO. Let me explain:

Some actions may require some resources to be carried out during the game. In a usual construction queue it is not possible to add such actions until the resources are available. When queuing is planning the action can be added to the queue as "planned" and it will start when the resources are available.

The gameplay mechanics of a planning queue are completely different to a construction queue. Take for example Starcraft 2. Players keep pressing some button in an OCD way until the resources for it are available. In games like Homeworld this is unnecessary. The unit can be added to the queue at any time and when the resources are available it will be constructed. This is a fundamental difference that is often overlooked.

In short:

  • Pressing repeatedly buttons until the construction of a new unit can be started: insane option.
  • Queuing the construction of the unit until the resources to finish it are available: sane option.

I don't mean to bash Starcraft, I am definitively going to get the full Starcraft 2 trilogy as soon as I buy a new PC. I like the fact that it is so fast-paced (I would say it is an action-RTS) and definitively it is a great game. But I think this kind of mechanics are a limitation that should have been overcome already, as being able to select only 12 units in the original Starcraft.

There are more games where actions can be queued, for example the Sims, and some Final Fantasy if I am not mistaken. This mechanic is not necessarily tied to RTS games, but there is where it shines most, IMHO.

Please let me know your opinion.

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#2 Posted by audioBusting (2558 posts) -

I feel like that describes two different concepts.

One is a variant of Build Queues that is already mentioned in that wiki page with an example (Command and Conquer), and I don't think there is enough to warrant its own page.

The other is action queueing (like in the Sims) that I think could be a concept page. I guess it's a little similar to build queues, but how it applies to individual characters and actions instead of factories and units/buildings makes it distinct. I don't know if there's any page similar to that one yet.

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#3 Posted by Trylks (983 posts) -

Right, I am speaking about a characteristic or variant of queues (build queues, action queues, etc.) that is different from the usual queues in that it does not check the requirements of the action (with building being a type of action) before allowing the user to queue that action.

An easy way to see the difference is that in some cases cancelling an action returns the resources blocked to perform that action, and in some other cases it doesn't return anything because no resources were blocked. Unconstrained queues tend to be of the second type, while building queues in particular tend to be of the first type. The reason is in the type of resources that are involved.

For example, in The Sims it is possible to assign several different characters to wash a dish nearly at the same time, but most probably only one will be able to do that and the action will be automatically aborted by the others. Blocking the resources would lead to unrealistic situations in this context. In the case of other resources, like gold, it is easy to assign some amount to some action as a requirement to start the action and a guarantee that the action will be finished. Gold and other "types of currency" have this property, after all, humanity uses money (for several reasons, including liquidity) and will probably use it for a bit longer, because it is convenient.

It is a bit abstract as a concept, so please let me know if something is unclear.

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#4 Edited by audioBusting (2558 posts) -

@trylks: quoting from the wiki page, "Other RTS's like Command and Conquer however will not charge the player until the unit is actually being produced." I think that covers that first concept.

And I'm saying that I think it is different than action queues in games like the Sims or Knights of the Old Republic because even though the mechanics are fairly similar, they apply to different things.

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#5 Posted by Trylks (983 posts) -

@trylks: quoting from the wiki page, "Other RTS's like Command and Conquer however will not charge the player until the unit is actually being produced." I think that covers that first concept.

Certainly. But it does not differenciate between them. That has important implications in the gameplay. How can I know the type of queue that is present in some game?

Perhaps that is not the purpose of the concepts, but then I wonder what is the purpose of them and why do we have a "Gorilla" concept. Sure, we can make some sort of game show questions like: "For 25 points, names of games with gorillas in them", but details about the gameplay may be informative for purchase decisions additionally to that. Perhaps it would be nice to have that kind of information as structured information (i.e. concepts), and not depending so much on reviews that mention (or do not mention) that kind of characteristics.

And I'm saying that I think it is different than action queues in games like the Sims or Knights of the Old Republic because even though the mechanics are fairly similar, they apply to different things.

Indeed. I mention those examples because in fact we are speaking about a characteristic of a concept, or a sub-concept, (resources are used before carrying out the action or after) which is orthogonal to other characteristics of the queues, which are not an atomic concept.

About this notion of atomic concepts. In fact, inside Starcraft there are two types of queues. One is in the buildings, for the production of the units. The other one is in the workers (SCVs, drones and probes), as actions can be queued for them to perform, and this includes the construction of buildings (except drones). Paradoxically, the construction of buildings can be queued without the required resources, at least in Starcraft 1.

Therefore, the second page that you mention could be interesting, but I think that we should consider the whole aspect of queues (I didn't realize before that it was so complex) so that it is possible to have a clear model of the types of queues and their characteristics.