So I was randomly playing the free RTS Warzone 2100 today, and noticed something that amused me.
I screenshotted it...
...then remembered that the screenshot was too big to fit well on my blog, so here's a cropped version:
In the game, you need to do research to have a lot of technology be available. Also, when you have allies, you share research.
And the hearts in the above screenshot tell you what research your allies are doing at the same time as you.
I'm not sure how beneficial this is for research in general-it looks rather like it doesn't speed things up, and if it could, you'd probably be allowed to put multiple of one's own research stations to work researching the same project-but I have noticed that if you click to research a thing that an ally wants to research but doesn't have the resources for at the moment, your resources will start up the research. Sort of an angel investor thing, I guess.
Too bad you can't rescue them from their own stupidity in other ways...*
*One of the things that I find rather useful in an RTS where one may have computer allies is the ability to use friendly fire to manage the AI's basebuilding. For whatever reason, numerous RTS AIs are notorious for their bizarre, extreme basebuilding habits, which often result in hideous, unnavigable sprawls. And sometimes they just snipe the resource spot you want, which is nearly as bad.
At any rate, being able to hurt allied units is useful, especially when your ally doesn't complain.** But a lot of RTS games, this one included, make it incredibly difficult to do even the slightest harm to an ally. (Or in this game's case, to one's own units.)
To be fair, the only game I've played that actually makes it easy is Total Annihilation-a force-fire option plus massive artillery, nukes, powerful self-destruct explosions, and the Commander's disintegrator gun-with TA:Kingdoms being a distant second (only artillery and area-of-effect spells there, which are nowhere near as flexible and effective as the TA options).
The closest I got to that in Warzone 2100 was using a laser satellite on a neutral building while friendlies were nearby, and for obvious reasons that only works on my own guys. But then, the only other way to harm one's own units in Warzone 2100 is to send them into hostile fire, so there are times when that's useful.
**I can't imagine, if you've ever played an RTS, that you've never screwed with an AI, whether friendly or enemy. They don't have feelings, but they can still be aggravating, and being able to mess with them has always been an important part of why Total Annihilation is good catharsis for me. And most RTS players are probably bigger control freaks than I am.