RTS Basics
RTS Basics: Research & Development

Cutting Edges

Your production may be the steel of your military might, but researching technologies and upgrading your units sharpens its cutting edge.

Research is usually just a button press...

In most RTS games you can research upgrades to improve your units' abilities and "discover" new technologies. Upgrades improve the stats of all units, or grant them special abilities. Technologies make available newer and more advanced types of buildings, units or weapons. Tech's can be either researched or made available when you construct the right kind of building. E.g. in Age of Empires 2, you have to build a Barracks to produce the Swordsman unit, and then a Blacksmith building to be able to improve your Swordsmen's abilities. An upgraded unit will have a slight advantage over its equivalent opponent who isn't upgraded in a one to one duel.

...and then just waiting for the progress bar to finish.

Usually, all there is to researching is selecting the right building or menu and just clicking a button. A progress bar pops up, and you are apparently "researching". When complete, your new buildings, units and technologies are available, or if it was an upgrade, all the units affected by your research are magically upgraded on the field. Technology and research in RTS has nothing to do with the art of discovery or exploring new ideas. Everything is prearranged, and the same technologies and upgrades appear in every game, unless you're playing a custom mod that's changed the rules. R&D is reduced down to nothing more than trying to keep ahead of your opponent in the arms race. Its not much more than a system of awarding bonus points for your side, and one of  the spices that add to the flavour of the game.

Back to Boring Theory Economics
Tech Trees On to RTS Units
Top of page Top

Last reformatted Sun, Aug 3 2003 by Lindsay Fleay