- A turn-based strategy game is something like chess or checkers. A real-time strategy games allows every player to take turns at the same time.
- One of the first games credited as the ancestor of RTS was a multiplayer space game that took up one of the most powerful computers in 1981. It ran on an IBM System/370 Model 168.
- Westwood Studios created Dune II, which was responsible for coining the term real-time strategy.
The gaming culture has a vast collection of abbreviations and slang. One of those bandied around is RTS. To get straight to the point, RTS stands for real-time strategy. A lot of the time, RTS is used to describe a genre of video games. In this article, we will dive into the origins of RTS and some of the most prominent use cases.
Origins of RTS
The term real-time strategy was used initially in contrast games with a turn-based strategy structure. A turn-based strategy game is something like chess or checkers. So instead of one move at a time, real-time strategy games allowed every player to take turns at the same time. Although this sub-genre was emerging in different regions around the same time, the creator of the game Dune II Brett Sperry, coined the term real-time strategy to market his game.
The RTS genre did not just pop up out of nowhere in the early 90s, though. For quite an extended amount of time, the genre of RTS was developed and refined. Some of the games that have been credited with creating the genre were never actually classified as an RTS games. One of the first of these games credited as the ancestor of RTS was a multiplayer space game that took up one of the most powerful computers in 1981. It ran on an IBM System/370 Model 168. Tim Barry said in an interview once that when the game was turned on, a lot of the regular work for the day usually stopped to dedicate time to playing it.
Seminal RTS Games
Although various games could fall into the class of RTS, that came before these extremely popular titles. RTS games exploded between 1992 and1998. Most of them originated from Blizzard and Westwood Studios. You might be more familiar with Blizzard because it’s still active. Unfortunately, Westwood Studios went defunct in 2003.
Westwood Studios created Dune II. And Dune II was responsible for coining the term real-time strategy. But their most significant accomplishment was Command and Conquer, a game that sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Both these games featured the core concepts that still hold true to RTS games coming out today.
After seeing Westwood’s tremendous success in the RTS genre, Blizzard tried their hand and also struck gold. In 1994 Blizzard released Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, which quickly gained immense popularity. A lot of people believe this was due to fantasy elements and the fully flushed-out world Blizzard created. It was hard not to get sucked in. Warcraft: Orcs and Humans was such a hit that they released Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness the following year. These two Warcraft games were also responsible for creating one of the most popular games worldwide, World of Warcraft.
RTS games typically have a much more complex gameplay style than most games. As the player, you usually have an ariel view of the world, and instead of controlling one main character, you manage groups of people or a faction. In addition, you usually move through the map by clicking or scrolling.
If you have never tried an RTS game before, it is worth checking out at least once. It is one of those genres that you either hate or love. And enough people have fallen in love with these games to make RTS one of the most prominent PC game genres. If you want one to try out, we highly recommend the Age of Empires series or Total War: Warhammer II.
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