Selection in strategy games

A good selection system is extremely important for RTS games, a good strategy game will allow the player to select their units and buildings in many different ways.

Most basic strategy games should at least have a simple rectangle selection tool, and maybe some custom selection tools as well such as the one in SupCom 2 which allows paint-mode selection and even though I’ve never really tried it I’m pretty sure it can be pretty handy in certain occasions. Other selection methods in RTS games can be also helpful : setting groups, smart selection ( like in KKND ), selection by path, any sort of additional way of managing the game’s objects is always welcome, as long as they don’t replace the basic ones.

Now, I’ve seen some indie strategy games which actually only had that basic rectangle selection tool but lacked the real features like adding or removing objects from your selection, those small but significant things are what differentiates a good strategy game from a mediocre one.

Any sort of strategy game should have at least these features :

Here’s a demonstration of the “good” basic rectangle selection system…

Obviously selects everything that interacts with the box

We do the same thing while holding ALT

And BAM! all those units inside that selection were deselected.
If you hold SHIFT, you should be able to add units to the group.

Finally, the double click selection ( ignore the ugly bodyless units )

Which selects all units of the same type that are visible on the screen

It’s simple as that !

Smart selection is also an important thing to have if your game has a lot of different selectable objects next to each other. When you have few units next to a base and you select all of them, there’s a high chance that you don’t want the base to be included in your selection, smart selection filters out the improbable selection and makes your life easier.

Strategy games need to allow players to have different methods of selecting their units, ability to select however you want is really important, like customizable shortcuts that select certain groups of units.

The more freedom of management you have, the better it is. Realize that not everyone plays the same way as you do, think about all those crazy micro-management Koreans !