I don't remember exactly when I came across RTS games, but I do remember that among the first ones were Tiberian Sun, Age of Empires, and a seemingly obscure one called Metal Fatigue, by Zono Incorporated. It seemed to me, quite revolutionary and novel at the time, but having looked it up again after a while, it's not quite the revolution that I thought it was, seeing as so far, I have not seen any of its features in any other games, except for those in the vein of Earth 2150, which I doubt took inspiration from Metal Fatigue. (Correct me if I'm wrong). If you need a little memory jog, here's the cover art for the game:
I don't know if anyone else remembers this game, or has played it, but to me, it was intriguing experience, with the configurable combots, the three layers of the map, and the carryover experience. Those were the highlights of the game, but in a time where it didn't stand out, not implemented to take full advantage of these advances (As far as I'm aware, the different parts didn't make a difference in advantage against the enemy other than more expensive parts dealing higher damage, but that's just me), as far as I know, they have not been assimilated into other games. I'm not trying to revive a following of the game, if there ever was one, and I'm not reviewing it (for a review, IGN has a good one).
What I am trying to do however, is flesh out the best bits for a future project, where I may start on my idea of a really good video game. If anyone has any suggestions as to how any of those formerly innovative ideas could implemented and utilised in the best possible way, please tell me.