But before you do more content, the basics must be done right.
RTS games are indeed something really hard to make compared to most other game genres.
I believe you are emphasizing too much the balance aspect. I saw EALA following your though pattern, honestly, I can live with an unbalanced game with a lot of content (eg: Battlefleet Gothic: Armada) over one theoretically well balanced, but with a serious lack of content (8-bits Armies). We may argue BF:A cheats by using 40k massive lore, but Petroglyph is actually attempting to do the same by catering to the C&C audience, except they don't have the copyrights.
Balance does give you the feel that the game is fair. Beside balance, you must actually like what you play.
Ah, well, here we have a problem here, trying to find something "fair" it's quite hard in a game, ultimately that's subjective, and someone who just lost a game will have a very biased opinion of what is fair due the emotional feedback.
Maybe my point would be more clear If I explain it by a game I like.
The point why I still do write here on the forums is RUSE. Just 6 years ago by Eugen Systems was done a really great game.
I didn't buy it for the same reason I didn't buy CoH or WaW, I feel WW2 has been so overdone by the media I may not look into it for 2 or 3 decades, but ok, I guess everyone has his fav theme.
1-There was a really good manual and tutorials.
I did play a really good story, that did explain me the mechanics. And there was this in-game Rusopedia. It did not only explain to me the units, but also did provide some backs story for them, you had missions that were designed to use them in the story or play vs them, which made for each Unit some how a personality.
Agreed, this is something AoA utterly lacked.
2- Next one is the game play itself. I liked by RUSE the tactical possibilities, reliable units and the diversity in game play.
You have to make a good mix of units, to win there.
You can do the same with WRD, but this sounds more like a RTT, not a bad thing, but I think AoA was intended to be a RTS.
3- Its still pretty good populated. Once week I do look again and do find always people to play this.
WW2, no real effort there, while the game may be good, just as with 40k, it already has a established fanbase.
4- I liked the economy that did provide me "in time" with resources to build base and units.
In RUSE you have 200 Credits, for 40 Credits you could have the expansion that did provide money.
So you did build 4 or 5 of them and had for the rest of the game enough resources for everything without waiting.
I do agree with you that a good economy is quite important, Eugen Systems could make things better by adding another oil derrick to the starting points.
5- Well you could attack without forcing your enemy to instant give up.
I mean if he did loose one or two resource expansions, but could still be in the game and make a come back.
I like to spend time fighting my enemy. If I can defeat him easy, that's not fun for me either.
I want to feel like I did deserve this victory and he had a fair chance to fight me.
That is the reason why 3 resource points for each player just can't be enough,
in any RTS game you have much more, so you can retreat, reorganise and rethink your approach.
I am a turtle by nature, for me it's ok to successfully turtle, sadly a lot of people on this forum think otherwise, the lack of choke points on the maps may have something to do with making early bases defensible.
Well AoA+Reboot is at least an "Experience" . I hope they will have much more luck by next projects , what ever that will be.
I think Eugen is ok with this one, but it may be some years before we get another AoA like game, as ever, sales are the engines of prosperity for a goods company.
By the way, here is my list of what did go wrong with this game, from inception:
-Overcomplicated economy, the need for LEMs, different resources, the fact you couldn't build up a strong economy without being forced to expand, and being extremely vulnerable to rushes.
-Lack of a tutorial oriented campaign, sadly not everyone is a veteran of the RTS genre, I have nothing against your visual style, in fact, I like it, but make the cutscenes and missions useful.
-Essential micromanagement options missing, no reverse button, awfully programmed hold-fire, no use-highway option, turn off/on weapons, I understand the company may be using rookie game designers, but sometimes you need someone who may think on these details even if that means some additional cash.
-Lack of one-click wonder powers, yes, I know it may take a lot of balance, but games such as Generals and Tiberium Wars were awesome because you had those special skill which could turn the tide of the battle in the crucial moment, if at least for the joy of "casting" your special abilities.
-Too few maps and too open to rush and frontal assaults, in most RTS games maps where you can actually turtle are viable, sadly Eugen Systems seems to share the opinion of some players that turtling shouldn't be a a viable strategy, ok, it's not that bad, but still, there is a reason why everyone played Big Game Hunters.
-Visual features, seriously, how hard can it be to add more player colors? Or turn the Cartel units in the campaign red? Also, they implemented many essential icons too late, and don't get me started with the infantry color identifiers, look silly.
Finally, and this is one I strongly believe matters, just because a lot of people love the visuals of this game (and not everyone turns everything to very low in visual setting) there is the lack of shader and particle effects, smoke trails look extremely bad, fire effects look like they were 90s gifs, Cartel Orbital strike and Chimera Blitz look simply bad, your models are great but they need better FX.