Make an RTS Game
As with all of our guides, we are assuming you are using Unity to build your game. Also, you understand the power and value of the asset store. We often link to purchasable assets. This is in the best interest of you the developer and streamlining your project.
Fast paced and insanely fun clicking mayhem. Blizzard really held the keys to this vehicle for a long time. WarCraft 3 and StarCraft are the games that still come to our minds when we remember the glory days of RTS’s. Luckily for you, there some incredible tools out there to help you get a pretty good prototype up and running in no time.
Real Time Strategy Themes
Most real time strategy games typically sway between two popular themes. Fantasy and Sci-fi. So when ever appropriate through out our guide, we’ll make recommendations for both styles if the assets are available or suiting!
Templates and Kits
Best to start off with what will be the base starting of your game. There are a wide variety of templates and basically fully complete RTS in a box so to speak. Some of these will have overlap in functionality. It would be doing you a disservice to not mention the most important tools. Even if there is some cross over. As with any recommendations, please keep in mind what is applicable for you and your project.
Obviously path tracking is extremely essential to any RTS. When it comes to map obstacles, other moving units, changes in scenery, you want a tool that will be responsive in real time to the changes you present during game play. The most comprehensive asset that exists for this job is A* Pathfinding Project Pro. There’s a reason it’s one of the highest rated assets of all time.
• A* Pathfinding Project Pro
RTS Kits and Engines
Here’s were some of the overlap begins. Which is a good thing. We typical prefer more choices on tools in our arsenal than less options. The RTS Engine is incredibly comprehensive for creating an RTS. It also has a path mapping system, So choose which ever you’re more comfortable developing with. The great thing about this game in a box, is it has so many of the things you’ll need for your game built in.
• RTS Engine
This RTS Toolkit has an immense amount of incredibly helpful development tools. Some of which are covered by the previous kits. But a plethora of other tools and options that can’t be overlooked. Please do some further reading into this one.
• RTS Toolkit
There is a very good 2D option that exists as well. This particular kit is also optmized for mobile. We normally recommend not releasing for mobile, at least not as the first phase of your game release. But if it’s in timeline of planned releases. Or you simply must release on mobile at the same time, City-Building Kit – Complete Version is the all in one kit you need to check out.
• City-Building Kit – Complete Version
Like many other large full project assets on the store. It does have some other assets it uses within it you will need to acquire as well. A proper 2D Toolkit.
• 2D ToolKit layering highlighter
Also requiring a proper GUI. Specifically NGUI: Next-Gen UI is the other required package here. This package is recommended for a wide variety of games. Also ties in with a lot of existing user interfaces already on the store. So it can easily be used in future projects.
• NGUI: Next-Gen UI
Perhaps we will write a different guide specifically for 2D real time strategy games in the future. For now, the rest of our guide will focus on 3d assets.
Fog of War
An overlooked crucial element when creating an RTS, is having some sort of fog of war. Keeps the player working hard to strategize. Sending scouting missions. It is almost universally required for a proper multiplayer version of the game. This asset gets the job done, and is aptly titled Ultimate Fog of War.
• Ultimate Fog of War
Maps and Props
Half the fun with maps are creating new environments and having multiple tile sets as your players journey through different stages of your game.
A great starting point is a fairly neutral village and outside slightly forested area. You don’t want to overload your players visually at first as they ease themselves into the game. With an almost elvish look, RTS – Fantasy Village fits that exact starting area you need for your game.
• RTS – Fantasy Village
If you find the last pack slightly to elf like, and you perhaps want to have some normal human buildings, there is a great asset called Medieval RPG Village that is great for that look.
• Medieval RPG Village
Snow, Lava, and Desert
Some beautifully hand made packs. This particular asset is great for increasing your type of tile sets. Plenty of doodads and enough variation to bolster your map count. With built in particle effects and easy to work with prefabs, Maze Package – Top Down should not be glossed over.
• Maze Package – Top Down
This would be an additional consideration. So far this is the nicest forest tile set we have come accross. It also includes a ton of extra props and smaller tower like buildings. Originally made for TD and MOBA games, that doesn’t stop this asset from being incredibly useful for an RTS. Check out Tower Defense and MOBA art pack. It also has a winter version as well.
• Tower Defense and MOBA
Maps Mega Pack
If you find you like most of the styles presented. And you figure you’ll end up implemented most of them, if not all, at some point. Than we definitely suggest you to consider what is called the ZugZug Asset Bundle. It includes much of what we have shown you earlier, plus a ton of other bonus assets.
• ZugZug Asset Bundle
Somewhat staying true to that bit of a hand painted look. Picture a slightly more cartoon version of StarCraft 2, we have a few recommendations for maps. And eventually unit types that should fit nicely in these worlds. Lets start off with SCI-FI Top-Down Pack 1. This pack is visually appealing. And has that metal complex on another world or moon kind of feeling.
• SCI-FI Top-Down Pack 1
A futuristic look of earth or an earth like planet. This asset even comes with a bunch of bonus props and Sci-Fi like buildings that could be used in your game as well. RTS Building Kit is definitely has some value packed into it.
• RTS Building Kit
It would be really great if a publisher took the bull by the horns for the sci-fi category. Really make some off world type terrains. Unfortunately, there’s just not currently a lot out there at this time. Hopefully we can add more stuff to this part of our guide in the future!
Luckily for us developers, people love creating packages of RTS building sets. All reasonably priced and of high quality work. This makes it easy to get a feel of our project early on.
Orc and Human Base
BitGem makes an incredible set of both, human and orc type buildings with that hand-painted texture look that fairs quite well and never really seems to age artistically. They sell these packs separate if you are only in need of one type. But we would prefer to link you the pack that includes both sets of buildings. RTS Buildings – Human & Orc. Especially since it’s currently priced the same as the other pack. Double your value.
• RTS Buildings – Human & Orc
If you feel you don’t quite have enough of either human buildings, or orc structures; Many-Worlds is another excellent publisher of hand painted assets. And these fit in quite well with the previous assets. First we have the Orc Base Pack.
• Orc Base Pack
They also have a human themed style of buildings as well. Human Base Pack. Keep in mind both of these packs come with 10 unique buildings each. Some up-gradable. Particle animations. And six building color styles. Especially useful for fighting the same faction or multiplayer games.
• Human Base Pack
A very over looked incredible asset exists on the store that has base buildings that look almost higher quality than that of StarCraft 2. So if this is the kind of look and style you are going for, be sure to check out Set of Sci-Fi Buildings.
• Set of Sci-Fi Buildings
There is an excellent asset that contains all the starting components to a space base. SciFi Base Pack 01. Currently this is really the only one we would even suggest on the store. In time, publishers will be adding to this category in demand.
• SciFi Base Pack 01
For our use of units here, we mean anything you command for attacking purposes. The fun and strategy that comes with units is having large scale epic battles that play out in real time. Typically having a lot of checks and balances. Units that are strong against certain kinds of units, and weak to others. Perhaps even healing units. Maybe the map has neutral units that get in the way or you kill for gold and experience. The possibilities are endless.
The classic style. Foot soldiers of the human, usually non-evil type. To stay the course, we will be recommending the hand painted, lower polygon type style units. Like these Toon RTS Units. Which are also low poly. Very crucial for having a larger number of objects/units on screen.
• Toon RTS Units
And of course, no struggle between two factions would be complete in a fantasy world setting without the iconic orcs. Toon RTS Units – Orcs. Just like the human counter parts, these come with a dozen animations. Also with 8 different colors built in.
• Toon RTS Units – Orcs
Elves, Undead, and Barbarians
The publisher of these, Polygon Blacksmith, happens to make several other factions as well. Giving you all sorts of opportunities to bolster your unit selections. Combine forces of the Toon RTS Units – Undead with the orcs! Maybe the classic pairing of the Toon RTS Units – Elves with the humans! There’s also the Toon RTS Units – Barbarians. Perhaps they are wandering vagabonds. Strictly to get into combat with who ever happens across them first.
• Toon RTS Units – Elves, Toon RTS Units – Undead, Toon RTS Units – Barbarians
This asset is called Battle Droids pack but it definitely is more like space soldiers. Several assault style fighters, a worker, and even a sword type melee space fighter, this pack is a great starting point.
• Battle Droids pack
Now lets add in some space combat vehicles that fit our Sc-Fi theme. The Combat Systems-Constructor is an excellent pack that comes pre-rigged and the creator put a lot of care and attention into this asset.
• Combat Systems-Constructor
Every good space themed RTS needs fighter type space ships. SciFi Army / Human SpaceShips 01 is a great place to start. But honestly, just click on CGPitbull and check out their entire space ships line up. A ton of quality work and packs.
• SciFi Army / Human SpaceShips 01
This is basically a bonus pack really. It comes with some buildings and a bunch of bonus props. Also the ground texture you see in the pictures. Kind of a mars like tile set. It’s been inlucded on the list since it has more tank like units. With very much that StarCraft kind of look to them. SCI-FI Tower Defense Pack 2.
• SCI-FI Tower Defense Pack 2
Spells and Effects
Most RTS’s will have at least some spells or effects. There is an absolute wealth of assets that have spectacular effects. We’ll try and help you navigate the hard to search through store front and suggest the most suiting for your game.
Made for a MOBA type game, this spells were made for the top down perspective. So they fit in perfect for this setting as well. MOBA / ARPG Effect Pack. They should be enough to cover what ever your casting type units use in your game. Later in this guide we also have a pairing of icons that have spells in them to go with this effects pack.
• MOBA / ARPG Effect Pack
An often missed opportunity, hit effects are extremely important for a satisfying feedback loop of landing a hit. This is typically shown by the unit receiving the hit going several shades whiter. A flash. Maybe some particles. Any good game title has awesome, yet subtle, hit effects to trigger that dopamine in the player. Do not overlook this part. We typically suggest you start with Hit & Slashes Vol.3.
• Hit & Slashes Vol.3
Systems and Tools
Now lets discuss backbone of scripts and visual coding that goes on behind the scenes within your project. Perhaps not as fun as the other topics. But these valuable assets will increase your proper workflow exponentially. Giving you more time to be creative, and less time trying to code something that already exists.
Visual Scripting Tool
One of the most incredible tools on the Asset Store. PlayMaker is the miracle for the non-programmers in us creative types. Used in many popular games to date. Hearthstone, Hollow Knight, Etc. There is a reason this is one of the highest selling assets of all time. Every project should start with this package.
If you have any sort of campaign or tutorial, which almost any game does these days, we have an excellent recommendation. Dialogue System for Unity. With so many integrations with any other necessary assets on the store, this is the go to app for creating any sort of talking interactions in your game.
• Dialogue System for Unity
Having a lot of select-able units and buildings will bring on another challenge most people don’t consider. When you select a unit, be it a building or attacking unit, it typically has an icon that represents what you are selected on. Or even a spell listed under a unit is shown with a visual icon. Since most assets do not come with icons, there is a wonderful little tool that takes care of this for you in a smooth work flow. Icon Generator.
It’s probably safe to assume you’ll want your players to have the option of saving their game part way through a skirmish or in a pinch point during the campaign. You guessed it, there’s a tool that handles that for you as well. Easy Save.
• Easy Save – The Complete Save & Load Asset
Multiplayer used to be extremely complicated. Like all necessary services, this has aslo been simplified by a 3rd party provider. The service we use for our multiplayer games is Photon.
• PUN 2 – FREE
Graphic User Interfaces
For the purest in us, there is an excellent system that utilizes Unity’s built in uGUI. That is if you want to make something from the ground up in terms of a GUI for your players. DoozyUI: Complete UI Management System is the obvious choice here.
• DoozyUI: Complete UI Management System
We have spent many an hour searching through the vast selection of GUI’s that exist. For the purposes of an RTS, we feel that Bloodsteel UI is the most suiting. It has all your typical base compenents. Logins, buttons, variety of windows. And a lot more. Unless your really creative, you most likely will have to combine this GUI with another one. And if you’re still unsure if either selection for style, Kodiak Graphics makes a ton of high quality GUI’s.
• Bloodsteel UI
Just like with all styles of existing GUI’s, there really isn’t any fully RTS themed ones yet. All though this one is technically pirated themed, it has a ton of resources to put together that selected unit and shortcut area you’ll be filling up with command symbols and unit icons. This Captains UI in unison with another RPG themed HUD combined should do the trick for you.
• Captains UI
If you want that StarCraft kind of feel to your graphic user interface. Or HUD as some developers call it. Perhaps your not the best with Photoshop or want somewhere to start. Full Sci-Fi UI is a great place to start. It should get you about halfway there. With login windows, loading bars, tons of buttons, it’s a great start.
• Full Sci-Fi UI
It is still lacking the area that occupies where your selected units and commands reside. At this time, no GUI exists that has this bottom tool bar/unit area that players are used to having in RTS’s. Aramech is the next best thing. It has enough resources to build one from existing parts in their asset package. Not to mention this is one sleek and beautiful GUI design.
There is as asset that exists specifically for this type of game called Strategy Game Icons. This should cover about half of the icons you’ll need. Between this and Icon Creator, it should cover everything.
• Strategy Game Icons
Music and Sound Effects
No game is complete without a killer soundtrack. And all the bells and whistles that come along with great sound FX. Sorry, we just had too!
This is the same suggestion as in our Tower Defense guide. Both of theses genres of games are super similar. So it’s no surprise that some of the music we choose would work for both. Check out Fantasy Music Pack 1. If you want something slightly different, there are Packs 2 and 3 as well.
• Fantasy Music Pack 1
We’ve recommend publisher often, and for good reason. Some of the best quality game music that exists on the asset store. Perfectly looping sound tracks that have the right amount of feeling to them. Galactic Adventure Music Pack 1 is the space theme you need. If you are unsure about it being the perfect fit, the same publisher has packs 1 through 4.
• Galactic Adventure Music Pack 1
When it comes to adding sound effects to your project, it’s really hard to beat this package’s bang for buck. Over 5000 sound effects. Yep! Universal Sound FX. We can’t recommend it enough. It should come in handy with this project, and almost any future project you work on.
• Universal Sound FX
If there happens to be a few crucial small sound effects you still need after utilizing this extensive library of sounds, we have a pretty good go to recommendation. Sound Rangers has always been an excellent service for us.
As with all of our articles. This will be an ever evolving resource. Updates with the best development practices and assets will be updated continually. As always, open discussion is encouraged in the comments!