Resource gathering in video games, part 1/6: Introduction

In this series of short articles I will discuss resources as they appear in real-time strategy (RTS) and similar video games. Specifically, I am interested in collectable (harvestable, gatherable, acquirable) resources and their implementation from the gameplay perspective. It does not matter if you are mining minerals, chopping trees, or collecting spacenuggets; this is about the method and the fun (or tedium).

But first, let’s do some research in the field. And, surely, there are few better ways to do research than playing video games. Alas, there are hundreds of examples to choose from, and hundreds more exceptions to every rule. Needless to say, redundant or obscure examples or methods I haven’t heard of will be left out.


First of all, structure is important. Therefore I will attempt to pedantically differentiate between the various types of resources in some meaningful ways.

Broadly speaking, every resource can be either physical or abstract. Physical resources manifest as real objects in-game (oil wells, lumber mills, minerals, etc.). Abstract resources is everything else (time, power levels, area, etc.).

As you’ll see, I will mostly discuss physical resources. Originally, I thought I would only post about physical resources. But over time I added more and more screenshots and thoughts on various concepts. So I will also delve a little into abstract resources and some related concepts.

Part 1/6: Introduction
Part 2/6: Physical resources
Part 3/6: Abstract resources
Part 4/6: Resource discovery
Part 5/6: Collection method
Part 6/6: Thoughts

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