The way units stand around in strategy games goes overlooked quite easily. When it comes to movement, unit organization is often taken into consideration when groups of larger units get in a formation. Formations look great but that's not something that a Tribal game should include.
However, if not in a specific formation, most games don't take unit organization into consideration at all, and allow units to group up however they please. I think it looks too messy and unorganized, and it's hard to pick out units and get the general army strength at a glance.
Another option is for each unit to occupy a tile. But I want to keep my tile size rather large for clarity (a basic house is 2x2) while allowing the units to bunch up in large groups.
I took a look at Populous: the Beginning again for formation inspiration. They have a system where most idle units will gather in groups of 6 in small circles on a wide grid system.
I think it looks great and it's clear what's going on and easy to estimate how many units are standing around, so I copied that, but with groups of 4 instead of 6. I like the groups of 4 because the groups themselves can be closer together without being too crowded.
I liked it, but I felt the wide gaps between groups didn't help at all, so I halved the size of the grid from 200 to 100 units to allow the units to group up with each other more closely. This works well because building snapping uses a 100 unit grid as well (Unreal units). With the grid smaller, you lose some clarity but you can fit units more densely while still being able to select a predictable amount of units at a glance.
To get this outcome, when 2 units meet at a location, they spawn a "meetup" actor. This meetup counts the number of units in the small area and sends them to a location based on the RotateVectorAroundAxis node. If there are more than 4 people, it sends the extras to another location nearby and repeats the process.
I like the way it turned out, it looks like they're hanging out together for the most part, while still looking a little messy and disorganized.
I used the same system for combat situations but it's a bit more tricky. It calculates the teams as well and sets up a majority and minority group. This creates the combat situation where, on one point in the grid, there can be a battle of 3v1 or 2v1 or 1v1, but NOT 2v2. If there are 2v2, one person from each team moves to another spot nearby.
You might ask, why go through this complexity just to separate groups of 2v2? The answer is, without this system, often groups of 4v1 would group up as a team in one spot 4, and the enemy alone and separated in another group of 1. This is not ideal at all and puts the combat on a halt entirely.
It may not be the best way to handle the unit organization, but it works for me so far.
I create, design and develop video games I'm interested in playing.
The Fire System
Melee and Ranged Units
Weather and "Seasons"
Ladders and Elevation
Animating 2D units in a 3D world
Setting the Theme
Setting the Focus