175   ledmeister.com

Refreshing Comments...

Games that create a completely new genre (in this case, Real-Time Strategy) are rare. Dune II is the even-more rare case of a new genre being created at the same time as the game itself being quite excellent and popular at the same time.

I've fond childhood memories of playing this for many hours. Great game!

I have the same fond memories of this game. I fell in love with the books and was amazed at how great a game it was. Played it over and over with all the different houses and their strengths and weaknesses. Such a anomaly that a movie/book based game was that well put together.
The little cartoon animated heads in the cut scenes was pretty cool for the time, and I remember trying different exploits on the last level just to see what could work, iirc expanding your base/towers over the cpu bases was the only way I could stop the harkonnen from respawning.(when I was house atreides)
Wait, Dune II was the start of the RTS genre? That's amazing.
Start of the genre really, but not strictly the "first RTS" which was probably https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herzog_Zwei .. the term RTS was coined for Dune II, however, and it was the first popular such game.
It’s somewhat fuzzy what qualifies as RTS, but Dune II was much closer to what we think of as RTS than anything before it.

The Dune II interface was the template for subsequent RTS designs Some key elements that first appeared in Dune II and later appear in many other RTS games include:

  A world map from which the next mission is chosen
  Resource-gathering to fund unit construction
  Simple base and unit construction
  Building construction dependencies (technology tree)
  Mobile units that can be deployed as buildings
  Different sides/factions (the Houses), each with unique unit-types and super weapons
  A context-sensitive mouse cursor to issue commands (introduced in the Mega Drive/Genesis version)



> published by Broderbund in 1984. It is generally recognized as one of the first real-time strategy or real-time tactics games.

That's definitely the oldest I've seen. From the videos, it definitely qualifies as well. There doesn't appear to be resource management (but that's not required, some Warcraft maps don't even have that), and it can be played with two separate timescales, where you go to a separate battle real-time tactics, but apparently that's optional and you can let the unit battle come to a conclusion without ever leaving the overhead map and timescale.
Nether Earth on the Spectrum might qualify too. It had many of the elements: map and resource control, combat, building and directing units with the possibility of either microing individual ones or giving them goals, all in real time. I've spent many hours playing that game and always thought that it was something special.
There are a lot of games that are played in real time and involve strategy before then, and I'll happily call them real time strategy games. But Dune II is the earliest I know of that combined all the key elements of the classic RTS formula - resource collection and management, base building, technological development, etc.
Wow you're good at history. If you would like to moderate both the Transformers site, and Lord of the rings, send me an email. Subscribed! <3
This is why I felt bad for the PUBG devs, who seemed to have successfully pushed the Battle Royale genre with a game that wasn't perfect but that they put a lot of effort into, only to be outsold in days by Fortnite upon its release.
Given that PUBG has apparently sold 50 million copies across PC and Xbox (as of two years ago!)[1], and the amount of time and effort that goes into Fortnite continuously to keep it fresh and the people playing it happy, I'm not sure that PUBG hasn't payed a higher dividend on investment percentage-wise, even if it's of lower total amount.

Bottom line, I'm not really really feeling bad for PUBG at all. It's kind of like feeling bad for Minecraft because a lot of people are playing Fortnite now. Minecraft made most its money on the purchase. There's some loss in future revenue because of the network effect, but they probably made most the money they were going to make from you already (and to bring it back to PUBG, it's not for everyone. I didn't let my currently 10 year old son play it, but I let him play Fortnite, even a year ago when this was a discussion).

1: https://www.polygon.com/2018/6/19/17478476/playerunknowns-ba...

I see your point but Minecraft didn't get usurped in popularity by a game that ripped off it's core gameplay loop. As another commenter mentioned, I did forget about DayZ, so maybe Battle Royale wasn't an entirely original concept from the PUBG developers, but I think it's fair to say Epic Games saw the popularity of the genre, pivoted their lackluster game into the genre, and then undercut PUBG on price to rise in popularity. I guess that's just business, but I do hold sympathy for the PUBG devs.
DayZ was more a survival game than a battle royale, at least earlier in its lifecycle because it lacked the forcing mechanic that caused players to have to constantly get closer and closer.

Also, I feel that Fortnite's popularity is not just price - a HUGE reason why the game is so popular is that they deliberately went after a broader audience. For example, equal prominence was placed on the female characters (which were deliberately not overly sexualized) and the violence was very much toned down - no blood and guts, no bullet-ridden corpses. These were deliberate design (and marketing) decisions to procure a broader player base and avoid some of the toxicity of the Call of Duty-style games.

Okay, but are we really considering the Battle Royale gameplay features all that innovative? If a large map you can find stuff on that eventually shrinks qualifies as something enough to differentiate it, doesn't Fortnite's building mechanic qualify enough to differentiate it?

I don't play either game (unfortunately my system needs a refresh), but from what I've seen of my son playing Fortnite the fights are like nothing I've seen in an FPS before. There's a mad dash to build fortifications right in front of people as quickly as possible as well as break through and navigate these fortifications while under fire. To outside eyes at least, the experience looks qualitatively different.

> I think it's fair to say Epic Games saw the popularity of the genre, pivoted their lackluster game into the genre, and then undercut PUBG on price to rise in popularity.

To my eyes, Fortnite differs in a few very important ways which makes it much more complex than one company copying another and undercutting them.

- It's targetted at a wider range of ages. e.g. it's much more acceptable for parents to allow a younger set of kids to play.

- It has a building mechanic, which changes both the strategy (pre-battle and route planning) and tactics (on-the-fly shielding during live fire) of a game.

- They are constantly updating it. I'm not sure how many "seasons" they are in now, but not only are the changes they introduce often fairly large, the end of season events are quite the spectacle, from the one or two I've seen after the fact.

If you combine that with the fact that PUBG seems to have made at least a few hundred million dollars on what I expect is a few million (or a couple tens of millions at most) investment, and I'm not really all that sorry for them. They had an idea, they executed on it and made a bundle of money, and then someone else iterated on it and happened to make a whole lot more money. What's the alternative, Epic not change Fortnite and all the people that play for free and all the younger players and all the people that like the building mechanic just lose out? I just don't see a situation where PUBG came out on top where more people are better off, and helping PUBG devs make billions instead of hundreds of millions isn't something I think we need to optimize for as a society, nor really care about.

> Okay, but are we really considering the Battle Royale gameplay features all that innovative?

Yes. Either accidentally or on purpose, the Battle Royale genre is a near perfect game type for streaming, which it evolved along side with.

> If a large map you can find stuff on that eventually shrinks qualifies as something enough to differentiate it, doesn't Fortnite's building mechanic qualify enough to differentiate it?

Yes! I am in no way suggesting that devs of Fortnite didn't innovate on the core concept, or that Epic owe the devs of PUBG anything. You're also correct about the wider age appeal and constant updates, though PUBG also receives updates albeit at a slower pace.

But Epic has far far greater resources, and though I don't think game genre's should necessarily be patentable, I do think Fortnite's Battle Royale would not have existed without the success of PUBG, and the fact that they could work off of a skeleton they knew was already tested and successful, especially with the lucrative streaming community.

I don't know about optimizing for society or whatever, it's just games man. I like that both can exist and be successful, while also feeling some sympathy for what could have been for the PUBG devs. Both can be true.

> I like that both can exist and be successful, while also feeling some sympathy for what could have been for the PUBG devs. Both can be true.

I accept most of what you said. I'm more just defining why I don't really feel sorry for them at all. If they were the inventors of the idea and they never were able to capitalize on it, sure. But they did capitalize on it, and it looks like extremely lucratively. It feels sort of like lamenting that Ford doesn't own more of the auto market given that they popularized (or invented in the modern era) the assembly line that all major automakers use. Ford's doing just fine, and we're all better off for the idea being spread.

It's okay if you don't agree, I just wanted to make sure I expressed myself accurately. :)

> only to be outsold in days by Fortnite upon its release.

I'm not sure it was days, but the part that's kind of galling is that Fortnite was a wave defense game that had some pretty lackluster reviews, so the developers instead turned it into a battle royale game because of PUBG's unexpected popularity, and it was the battle royale version that made waves.

PUBG was itself a commercialized version of (arguably better) Arma 3 mods with a bunch of royalty free assets + microtransactions. It still was printing money and top of the Steam charts for many months- I think it ended up being a great outcome
After spending so much time playing turn-based RPGs and some turn-based strategy, for some reason I just couldn't handle the pressure of RTS. Playing Dune II felt like it was too much burden to manage -- I really liked to take my time to analyze every move in those turn-based games. This was the exact opposite: I had to execute!

I didn't bother with RTSs until I tried out "C&C: Generals" and really found out what I was missing. I think I realized then what my friends were trying to get me to see when they hyped Dune II.

I did play it enough that we all get a kick out of saying "No more Ornis? :(" to one another.

Generals Zero Hour is a classic RTS, even though it was released maybe 80% complete.

The lead designer went on to make SC2 while C&C games kept getting worse and worse until the series reached its nadir with the two we don’t talk about.

I’m just getting into turn based RPGs (and don’t mind older graphics or having to run emulators). I also like to take the time to plan between moves and find the pressure of real-time unenjoyable.

Can you recommend a few of your favourites please? :)

Current gen: the Dragon Age games and (more recent) the Divinity games are both very good series that (importantly) FEEL like oldschool turn-based RPGs, especially Divinity II.

Before that, games like Neverwinter Nights.

Before that, Baldur's Gate (available on ios!) is particularly good.

Before that, there were a LOT of decent turn-based games but none really come to mind as being truly exceptional to me. Planescape: Torment is extremely well regarded but I only played that much later in life and found the emulator and 640x480 resolution to get in the way of the experience.

You can also look into a variety of roguelikes like nethack and (older still) "text adventures" like Zork or even Adventure.

Well, I was probably around 12 when I played these, so sometimes revisiting old stuff turns out to be not as great as I remembered. But "Bard's Tale" and "Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday" were really enjoyable at the time.

"Eye of the Beholder" was not quite turn-based but it seemed like it had a slower pace than newer games do.

Those were all PC titles. But "Phantasy Star II" I played on the Genesis and that was awesome.

I tuned out of most gaming before "X-COM" and "Fallout" showed up but I hear from my friends that they continue a interesting gameplay type similar to Buck Rogers.

I remember coming to it a bit later and being annoyed by several aspects of the game, even though it was obviously groundbreaking.

In particular I remember my units just sitting around allowing themselves to be shot by enemy units that had longer range instead of moving two meters to get in weapons range. I recall it wasn't good at letting you form groups and issue mass commands too.

C&C and especially Warcraft really nailed the UI and gameplay details for the RTS genre a couple of years later.

I've never played dune 2, but I played Warcraft then c&c, c&c felt like such a huge improvement over the first Warcraft. You could select far larger groups, the pace was faster and building was much more free. It wasn't really until Warcraft 2 and StarCraft that it really caught up to the command and conquer series.
I remember C&C being hard until you realised that you could ring your base with sandbags that the enemy would never destroy.
in unpatched version, you can place sandbags near enemy tanks, click sell button, move your cursor inbetween the sandbag and the enemy tank and click to sell the enemy tank.
OG Warcraft is one of those games that was groundbreaking at the time but is nigh unplayable to modern sensibilities.

Warcraft II is still very retro and missing a lot of quality-of-life stuff (especially the original pre-Battle.net edition) but it's at least tolerable. OG Warcraft is nails on chalkboard level bad.

The only two things exceedingly terrible about og warcraft was the walking speed and the road system...well i guess too, the races were basically identical, way too many underground missions that sucked hardvand generally it lacked manybthings...

But, i dunno, it was the first rts i'd ever played and the first game i got to go to the computer store and pick out. I spent the whole drive back just reading the book over and over again. It'll always have a small special place.

It was the first game of its kind, the UI and the AI obviously had many weaknesses which Westwood improved upon in later games (while C&C still had issues that are annoying by todays standards). That being said, Dune2 for 10 year old me was magical, like many games of this time.
Indeed. I think the original C&C is still pretty playable. It might not be fun after a few levels compared to a modern RTS, but all they core elements of the modern game are there.

Dune II does not hold up in the same way (and I love the source material). Not being able to select multiple units at once is alone a game breaker.

> Not being able to select multiple units at once is alone a game breaker.

Well, it's really not, because the game was fantastic and a lot of people enjoyed playing it. Game breaking would have been if when you played against another player they had multi select and you didn't.

Modern RTS players get very good at issuing actions to many specific units individually at high speed, it's an acknowledged skill today.

If your only strategy is a mass siege tank zerg, then yeah, no multi select is a little bit inconvenient.

You could always target a string of consecutive units and send the leader to (x) and the rest would follow. And get picked off 1 by 1 if you forgot about them long enough.
However, if the leader stopped when he got in weapons range the rest of the units would just sit back there and watch him fight. Westwood learned some lessons from Dune 2 that made Command and Conquer much better to play.

I'm a bit surprised there isn't a remake of Dune 2 out there that fixes the UI quibbles and updates the graphics. There was a lot of neat stuff in the game (it was surprisingly feature rich for being basically the first of its genre) but few people these days remember it. Maybe someone will get the rights for a remake when the new movie comes out? Sadly Westwood is buried out back in the EA studio graveyard.

Well, I found this within one minute of searching: https://github.com/OpenDUNE/OpenDUNE/blob/master/enhancement...

Engine or full reimplementation are common for previously widely popular games, some are even supported by the developers: https://www.gamingonlinux.com/2020/05/ea-to-open-source-part...

Also: http://dunelegacy.sourceforge.net/website/

> It tries to be as similar as possible to the original gameplay but to integrate user interface features most modern realtime-strategy games have like selecting multiple units

I still enjoy how much the presentation of the original C&C tries to make it feel like you’re actually commanding an army from your computer. I think that part of it is still fresh now, even though parts of the gameplay are dated now
played it on the sega genesis first!! before i even knew a pc version existed.

the soundtrack and the sound effects were particularly amazing to me. i can still remember most of them clearly in my head after all these years... "yes sir, moving on!" "construction complete" "reporting... acknowledged!"

this game inspired command and conquer in my opinion!

Ah, so many great feelings associated with those sounds!

tssssh! "reporting!" tssssh! "acknowledged!" is still in my head sometimes.

I love the simplicity of it, too. Newer RTS games seem to pile on the complexity to try to differentiate themselves from the crowd.

I agree. It was one of my favorites growing up. I remember being blown away when I installed my first ISA SB16.

I didn't realize this game was ported to Mega Drive. Must be awkward trying to control the cursor with a gamepad having grown up playing these games using a mouse.

I grew up playing Dune II on PC and finally played the Sega version a few years ago. I found it surprisingly playable - one of the controller buttons makes the cursor zip around at warp speed, and this works better than you'd expect. I'd only tried the game out of curiosity, but ended up finishing a full campaign.
Off-topic, but I saw the 1984 Dune film in theaters. It remains the only film I’ve been to where the theater handed out a sheet of paper with a glossary.

How familiar with the books do you need to be to play this?

If you haven't read the book, do yourself a favour and read it. I envy you, you'll be able to read it for the first time.

Movie is also great. It's just not finished. :(

Jodorowsky's version?
Of course not. That would have been horrible. Lynch's version is great: it has superb sets and production design, actors, music. One thing it lacks is screentime: first half of the book takes 80% time, while the second half is rushed in the remaining 20%. If we could have 2 (3) part movies in 1980s, it could have been extremely great.
> first half of the book takes 80% time, while the second half is rushed in the remaining 20%

Yeah, once you get to the end of the first half, it's like oh crap, we're out of time, montage montage, end battle, fight with Sting, plot plot plot, end credits. The film that's supposed to be released this year is reportedly only the first half of the book; I guess we'll see how that goes.

I'm really excited for the movie and the casting looks incredible so far. I wonder how the 2 movie split is going to work narratively. The book itself has kind of a perfect 3 act setup but I'm not sure breaking the story at the end of the book's part 1 (or halfway through part 2) is going to feel very satisfying.
> The book itself has kind of a perfect 3 act setup

Standard 3-act structure has a natural breakpoint at the midpoint twist of Act 2, not that my recollection of Dune is detailed enough to confirm that it maps naturally to 3-act structure in detail.

I think you could stop as a cliffhanger when Paul and Jessica escape from the worm, and are confronted by Stilgar. Then you start with a knife battle for the second movie, and who doesn't like a knife battle?
No, that would be like moving Luke vs Darth Vader fight to the beginning of episode VI.

This actually reminded me of a colossal mistake made by Hobbit pt.2 movie, when they ended the part with a dragon flying away to burn the city after the cringiest of chase scenes.

They could have easily end the part with slaying a dragon, and then show it again in part 3. All they needed was to find a different POV character!! One dragon kill, shown twice.

> How familiar with the books do you need to be to play this?

Assuming this game is like the Dune II computer game: you don't need any familiarity. For example, House Ordos (one of the three major houses in the Dune RTS games) isn't even in the books if I recall correctly. I grew up playing (and loving) Dune II (and all its sequels) long before I ever read Dune.

You don't have to be familiar at all. I've played the game first (and enjoyed the built-in animated encyclopedia, just for fun - that wasn't necessary either), watched the movie in some years and read the book in more than a decade (when I grew up).
I played it at 8 years old when I didn't know almost any English other than what I could deduce from what the commands did on the screen. The first day of English in school I went to the glossary to verify many of the commands. Going back to it now after reading a few of the books is a better experience but the story is fairly bare-bones in the game and you can tell that Fremen are brown-clothed powerful infantry without knowing their lore.

As others have said the controls have aged fairly badly if you're used to all the quality-of-life improvements in modern games.

If you haven't read the books and haven't played the game and want to do both, do the game first. RTS need a lot of suspension of disbelief, all that units getting created in seconds, then barely move out of visual range from the factory before getting destroyed, it makes no sense in any fantasy world. Familiarity with the source material will only make it worse. I'd say that having faint memories of having once seen the Lynch movie is the best level of preparation for the game.

Having played the game will in no way spoil the books.

Not at all. The book is worth reading though. The 1984 movie is garbage and doesn't do the source material any justice.
That's kind of the case most of times. Books rule. I mean, movies from script-scripts are OK, but, you know, movies from Books is a different thing. I can't knock on the so called movie, but, yeah, the books are allright, yeah, don't watch the movie, try the books, the books, is where it's at, fellas.
> Saboteurs can pass over enemy walls, and may do so without slowing down.

What? I played through Dune 2 several times with every house and had no idea about that!

I can remember my friend patiently explaining to me that House Harkonnen didn’t actually have invincible troops just because the guy said “our invincible Harkonnen troops” in a cutscene. I was all like “we should play as those guys!”
Dune 2 was great, but Dune 1 was even better. It will forever have a warm place in my heart. A completely different game, though.
Dune 1 is probably the most atmospheric 90s DOS game I've played. There are few games that will sweep you into a world like that.
The game was developed by Philip Ulrich, already behind the Ark of Captain Blood. The guy is a genius. This [1] is a short video of him explaining how the game was developed, alas in French only.

[1] https://youtu.be/5nHX_74mjss

What kind of person can block video titled "Dune : il faut sauver la planète des sables | Retrogaming Made in France | ARTE" from being viewed in certain countries?!
Arte itself, maybe? I hit this quite frequently in the opposite direction. Try invidio.us, or duckduckgo. A VPN as a last resort. Or other channels.. I'd have uploaded it, but my upload is very slow today...

The documentary is nice, if a bit short. The target is a general audience, so you might not be missing out that much.

It's not unusual for videos from public TV networks to be region-locked, I think under the premise that it's funded by the tax-payers from a country, so those can get that content for free, but not people from other countries.
i second that! this is ridiculous. i am subscribed to many french channels but i have no idea why arte would ever block this video...

the kind of things that only happens to music videos

... with the most fascinating thing being that it starts as RPG and ends as kinda turn based strategy.

Also, it's a great intro to the Dune lore...

Loved it. It was one of the first DOS games I played back in the early 90s as a young teenager.

Probably the first CD-ROM game we owned too. My brother and I had to sneak into my father's office to play it. At the time we were still playing video games on an old Sony MSX from the 80s and we didn't own our own DOS PC until a year or two later.

It was great indeed, if you did not wait forever for charcters to animate on the screen. At the time, I finished the game in like 1h after installing a TSR that accelerated the clock speed.
This game was released first for MS DOS in 1992. It was amazing experience - unlike many games of that time (most popular were side-scrollers like Prince of Persia), it required mouse.
I couldn't even begin to guess how many hours I spent playing this game as a kid (and how much I dreaded hearing "Warning - missile approaching" in the last level).
This was my first RTS game and I was hooked! So many fond memories of running over baddies with my spice harvester!
I remember having to mess with memory settings in the DOS boot files in order to squeeze enough RAM out of my little PC to play Dune II. Fun times.
I remember Dune 2 fit on two floppies (2x 1.44MB). That is impressive. It was compressed and decompressed itself on install, but still.
I think it was 4 floppies.
The Amiga-version was on 4 floppies, as most Amigas were equipped with drives for DD floppies (880k when formatted for the Amiga), while contemporary PC's had drives for HD floppies (1.44 MB formatted with FAT).