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Why are RPG combat systems so boring?


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#1 benfinkel   Members   -  Reputation: 136

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 06:11 AM

Hello all, As a big fan of RPG games, I was wondering why their combat interfaces are usually so boring. The subject is usually brought to mind when watching my characters defeat some orcs in Dungeon Siege, or (god forbid) the repetative snake-bashing of Everquest. To me, a game is supposed to be an interactive fun experience. Here are my thoughts on the matter: There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to combat. On one side you''ve got the people who want it to be a completely dice-roll kind of system. You spend hours developing your character pefectly, getting all of the right magic equipment and spells, so that he is a master with that sword. It doesn''t matter that you, as the player, have no idea how to use a sword. There''s the appeal; a handicapped person can become a master swordsman without having to be highly coordinated or reflexive. You''ve built a character that handles all of that for you. The down-side seems to be that combat is a boring thing. You may make a few choices about when to pause and drink a health-potion, but generally the game handles all of the interesting stuff. On the flip side, you''ve got a totally action-oriented system where it''s ENTIRELY up to the player to be quick, reflexive, and coordinated. Think Soul Caliber, where the player must know what attack combinations to use at which point, and must be able to execute them in a timely and correct fashion. The down-side to this is that there is no RPG element. If you''ve got a few magical enchantments that increase your skill with the sword, and your character is level 75 and spent all of his skill points in swords, you as the player are still not any better at it. So, why hasn''t anyone tried to devise a system that marries the two? Thoughts for the day. Apparently this is what too much Turkey does to you. -Ben

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#2 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 06:49 AM

it''s a tough balance beteween gameplay focusing on reflexes or strategy so games generally pick one and stick to it. You may want to look at Magic The Gathering:Battlegrounds because that seems close to what you want to do right there.

#3 Srekel   Members   -  Reputation: 168

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 07:18 AM

Deus Ex and System Shock 2 does this more or less perfectly.

I''ve heard not-so-good things about the DX2 demo though, so I can''t speak for that.

#4 MdLeadG   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 07:19 AM

I love Vagrant Story (squaresoft, ps1). The battle system is roughly halved between live action and decision-making, but it never feels that way. During battle, whenever you use your weapon, the game pauses so you can decide what part of the body - or stone creature - you want to aim for.
Throughout the game you build weapon strength stats, creature strength stats and attack techniques. The attack techniques let you wield your sword - or bow - in unusual ways. The key to this battle system is combinations. Everything is live action except for when you aim. Once you attack, you have the ability to attack as many times as you want, so long as you swing your sword at the precise time. This, in a way, gives the player total responsibility for being able to battle well, regardless of weapon stats, etc.
For example, even though the game architecture is pretty linear, one can potentially face an enemy that is far above your ability as far as stats are concerned. If your armor isn''t good enough and you get attacked you can die. However, if you''re skilled enough - or lucky - and get the first attack in, you can possibly beat the foe *soley* based upon your swordsmanship.
I''ve been waiting for Vagrant Story 2 since 1998 ...

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 08:10 AM

I LOVE Deus Ex, and you''re right. It does make a fine balance between statistical-based and coordination-based gameplay. However, it''s (regardless of the branching possibilities) a fairly linear action game. That aside however, good example.

As far as Vangrant Story goes I''ve never played it, but it also sounds like an interesting approach to balancing the two out. I may try and find that hiding in a bargain bin somewhere.

Anonymous - I realize it''s not an easy thing to balance out, but I''d think there would be more attempts to do so. Eh, what do I know anyways.

--Ben


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Posted 28 November 2003 - 08:33 AM

don''t forget most big companies don''t like taking risks when it comes to game design, which is why we see so many "cloned" games. I didn''t say the mixture couldn''t or shouldn''t be done, just that it may take some experimentation which many game designers may not be willing to do, and you can either end up with a bomb, or "tha bomb".

#7 Jolle   Members   -  Reputation: 178

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 09:10 AM

Diablo, anyone? It definitely got coordination gameplay.

And what you also have in many RPG:s are strategic gameplay. Like in Fallout.

#8 Ingenu   Members   -  Reputation: 892

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 10:06 AM

Grandia 2, look for this into the forum (search feature) I''ve described the system many times.


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#9 Turt99   Members   -  Reputation: 283

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 10:20 AM

I beleive Ultima Online has something like this now, I used to play and it was the dice roll type way like you described, but now they have special attacks and such that you can time so its kinda in the middle you can use those special attacks when you want but the rest is more or less computer controlled..

Also when your playing a mage you have to cast the spells that you want to cast so that also forces you to react to the different things..



#10 TheDarkening   Members   -  Reputation: 154

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 10:24 AM

Morrowind did a pretty good job at mixing stats and player skill.

#11 TechnoGoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2765

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 10:53 AM

Why do so many people talk about Deus Ex like its the greatest game ever made? I played it and thought it was just slightly above averge FPS. Is it because it actualy had a story and allowed multiple paths to objectives? Maybe people should be asking themselves why all FPS don't have those features? Okay enough of that little rant. Oh and Hacking in Deus Ex is cheating.

I always thought that part of the problem stems from the fact that 99% rpgs on the market have only form of combat resultion normaly side A kills side B. What there needs to be is more eleborate combat systems that can be resolved in multiple ways.

One game that married the action and dice rolling was Star Ocean 2. Basicly in combat you only control 1 of your 4 team members the rest are computer controlled however you could switch between them at any time. Also there was an actual battle field that player manuvered around during battle. To attack you pressed X I think. also you could release special moves with the R and L buttons and access the item menu by pressing circle. It wasn't bad it all happened in real time and there was advantage to getting behind the opponet. Also if you got hit your current action got interupted forcing you to keep spell casters away from the enemy if you wanted them to be able to cast magic. Special powers also gained in proficany after each use and became more powerful and more visually impressive.

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[edited by - TechnoGoth on November 28, 2003 5:56:02 PM]

#12 MdLeadG   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 11:05 AM

One barrier is the fact that you have a weapon stat at all. Throughout an rpg, weapon proficiency is of course raised, but not necessarily inline with the player.
For example, in Dragon Warrior, and alot of older RPGs, you can stay within safe distance to the first town in the game fighting blue and red slimes. And, if you fight long enough - 4-5 weeks I would imagine @ 2-3 exp/fight - you could gain enough exp and str to be comfortable through the entire map.
One thing I like about Vagrant Story is you get fighting exp for yourself, but also for every type of enemy that exists. So starting the game out fighting 50,000 cave wolves wouldn''t be a good strategy. You''d be good at fighting wolves (which I believe have a beast type) but actually worse against a dragon (which is of type dragon). (p.s. not to mention you can make your own weapons for jesus'' sake!)
I think this just makes sense. Instead of just giving the lvl.32 player the benefit of the doubt, it forces them to prove their skills, at least with different kinds of enemies.

#13 Coincoin   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 11:33 AM

Can you say Diablo2?

I personally think Diablo2 is a perfect merge between Stats and Action. I always played Sorceres, because it requires you to aim and it opens the door to some sort of strategy.

Add to that the most advanced and balanced looting system ever created and you obtain an enjoyable and addictive game. Now they just need to work on the storyline :-\

#14 Extrarius   Members   -  Reputation: 1412

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 12:26 PM

quote:
Original post by Coincoin
Can you say Diablo2?

I personally think Diablo2 is a perfect merge between Stats and Action. I always played Sorceres, because it requires you to aim and it opens the door to some sort of strategy.

Add to that the most advanced and balanced looting system ever created and you obtain an enjoyable and addictive game. Now they just need to work on the storyline :-\
I would disagree entirely. Diablo 2 is nothing but a click-fest. All you do is point and click and use a potion every once in a while. Its like an FPS, except that instead of other players, you get to play against bots that just walk around real slow while trying to always stay visible and have a reaction time of something like a minute.

#15 GroZZleR   Members   -  Reputation: 820

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 03:48 PM

Its also very AI dependant.

I''ll use MMORPGs as an example, because you brought up Everquest. Ultima Online will be my reference.

Basically, AI in an MMORPG is pretty stale and boring. They come at you, you hit attack and you kill ''em. Some of the bigger creatures require you to run away, rest and heal and then attack ''em again. Or even some games, like Shadowbane for example, have a pretty decent grouping system where one person can run back, and start launching their ranged attack while they''re buddy takes focus for a bit.

However, when you''re facing a player in Ultima Online, it really differs from fighting the AI. Its a completly new "combat system" all together. You move, you run, you time your attacks with your spells to a offence / defence combination that require both your character stats and your pure physical reflexes.

I consider UO (old school) one of the best examples of a combat system to date (when fighting players), because you really quire both a decent well-created character and sharp reflexes without it being a total click-fest.

#16 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4688

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 03:57 PM

quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Why do so many people talk about Deus Ex like its the greatest game ever made? I played it and thought it was just slightly above averge FPS. Is it because it actualy had a story and allowed multiple paths to objectives? Maybe people should be asking themselves why all FPS don''t have those features? Okay enough of that little rant. Oh and Hacking in Deus Ex is cheating.

I always thought that part of the problem stems from the fact that 99% rpgs on the market have only form of combat resultion normaly side A kills side B. What there needs to be is more eleborate combat systems that can be resolved in multiple ways.

One game that married the action and dice rolling was Star Ocean 2. Basicly in combat you only control 1 of your 4 team members the rest are computer controlled however you could switch between them at any time. Also there was an actual battle field that player manuvered around during battle. To attack you pressed X I think. also you could release special moves with the R and L buttons and access the item menu by pressing circle. It wasn''t bad it all happened in real time and there was advantage to getting behind the opponet. Also if you got hit your current action got interupted forcing you to keep spell casters away from the enemy if you wanted them to be able to cast magic. Special powers also gained in proficany after each use and became more powerful and more visually impressive.

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project
Chaos Factor Design Document



[edited by - TechnoGoth on November 28, 2003 5:56:02 PM]


when i read the title of this thread, that was one of the games i immediately thought of. part of the reason is that, IMO, the battle engines are being duplicated regardless of the game. for example, Star Ocean 2 would have been a more interesting if it was multiplayer. the switching of characters began to become annoying. another game that suffers from this is Grandia 2.

also it would be nice if games, like FFVII, where the party splits up, that each party could be controlled by 2 players. that would make the game more interesting and fun.

when game developers, independent and commercial, started to fully explore these ideas and implement them fully, then i think the gameplay (as well as the battling) will improve.


#17 Neoshaman   Members   -  Reputation: 170

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 06:08 PM

definitly VALKYRIE PROFILE
did someone play it??

quote:
Original post by Alpha_ProgDes
the switching of characters began to become annoying. another game that suffers from this is Grandia 2.



explain this a little more, i''m concerning in my own design
wether my gameplay is both from grandia and valkyrie profile (ok i borow concept, but i just want to do THE sys i allways want, chack the my in game joke like the click festival in the beginning of the story)

quote:

also it would be nice if games, like FFVII, where the party splits up, that each party could be controlled by 2 players. that would make the game more interesting and fun.



the latest tales of on gamecube let you play 4 player the same time in fight (ff9 did that too with 2 player)


however nobody mention the secret of mana series BAD


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be evil
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#18 Krisc   Members   -  Reputation: 494

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 06:44 PM

Play Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

It has the classic DnD battle system, rolling and everything but it is played out in a realtime way. Or you can pause the battle and give specific people commands, or play in real time and give them commands on the go. It is awesome!

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#19 Beer Hunter   Members   -  Reputation: 712

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 08:11 PM

A turn-based battle system can still require the player to have skill. There might be some ways to require skill during the actual battles, but the player might also need to be prepared for battles—and not just by having a high level.

If you get afflicted with poison, you might have a limited number of turns to cure yourself, or you'd die. Not lose a small number of HP—die . You'd need to have some way to cure yourself of poison. A poison-cure spell wouldn't always be the best solution—especially if it takes several turns to cast. Alternatively, the player might need to buy poison-cure items. The player's best bet is to be prepared.

Suppose it takes four turns to cast the Immolation Beam spell. If an enemy pyromancer starts casting it, you'd have four turns to either kill the pyromancer or use some magical means to protect against fire. If not, you wouldn't just take fire damage—you'd die. There might be a spell which protects against fire, but that could take time to cast, which wouldn't save you from the pyromancer's partner who just stabbed you with a poisoned dagger. There might be items which protect against fire—again, the player must be prepared.

Make enemies dangerous, and battles become harder, requiring more skill. Simple.

[edited by - Beer Hunter on November 29, 2003 3:13:10 AM]

#20 DrunkenBastard   Members   -  Reputation: 112

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 08:19 PM

Gothic I and Gothic II blend the two pretty well. As you raise your sword skill you swing faster and can perform more combos. Yet the player still has to do the fighting.

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If 4 out of 5 people suffer from Diahrea does that mean the fifth person enjoys it?
p.s. excuse me english. im from L.A.




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