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Why are RPG combat systems so boring?


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#41 keless   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 10:34 AM

heh, im in the middle of Majesty right now.

the game is pretty fun, but a little outdated. Also, the goals are kind of lame, and the AI are pretty dry. I would LOVE to see an updated version of this game.

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#42 ishpeck   Members   -  Reputation: 154

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 11:37 AM

quote:
. . . the game is pretty fun, but a little outdated.
A game''s age has very little to do with how fun it is.

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Good is the enemy of excellence.

#43 TechnoGoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2642

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 12:26 PM

Speaking of rpg combat, Would people be annoyed at a game that went back to old FF1 approach to combat. In that if you issue multiple attack orders to the same unit and it dies after the first then the rest of the attack orders do nothing. As well as that status effects extend beyond battle and require special items to heal or going to a healer in town.

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#44 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 12:33 PM

I WOULD TOTALLY SHIT MY PANTS IF GAMES WENT BACK TO THAT.

#45 Saiyanofliberty   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 01:31 PM

Grandia II, tho my favorite rpg, isnt'' so much of an action system, that I beleive the poster is describing.

I actually tried this type of game where you have a fighter type game that has experience pts and stat scores. It was a long time ago, it was an ok.

#46 glassJAw   Members   -  Reputation: 128

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 03:05 PM

Say what you want about it, but Kingdom Hearts had an absolutely brilliant combat system for an RPG.

Also, I've never seen a combat system to match Devil May Cry's

[edited by - glassJAw on December 10, 2003 10:05:46 PM]

#47 Vanquish   Members   -  Reputation: 216

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 03:44 PM

Well at the risk of egotism, a lot of the musings here sound like the game we have been creating.

* a Soul Caliber2 melee fighting system: with fighting skills based off RPG skill system.

* a marraige of FPS and RTS: Explore and extract resources in order to expand your PvP territory, which in turn enhances your FPS experience.

Getting the RTS experience to be more immersive just makes sense. The combining of genres is the best developers can do until someone REALLY thinks outside the box and comes up with a whole new type of game or the hardware gets A LOT BETTER (think nano-technological VR)

The question is merely how this current "alphabet" of genres gets mixed together.



Alfred Norris, VoodooFusion Studios
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www.conflictomega.com

#48 keless   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 06:36 PM

quote:
Original post by ishpeck
A game''s age has very little to do with how fun it is.



True.

However, the 16 bit graphics could do with a tune up. Particularly, however, I''m talking about the over-all game play. Instead of having ''levels'' each with their own un-connected objectives and plot, I think it would be better to have a consolidated storyline; and continuatino from one ''level'' to the next. Something like Heavy Gear 2''s ''campaign'' system would be awesome.

''Dated'' only really applies to that in that we expect more than just piece-meal level design in our games today, particularly in RPG-type games.

Its certainly a fun game. But its been out for a while, and it could do with a re-visit and re-vamp. Good games should be improved upon over time, so they become even better.


And TechnoGoth:
I hated that system. I still have trouble going back and playing FF1 because of that specifically, it just bugs me. I think Square''s remake of it actually ''corrected'' this ''problem''.

#49 rmsgrey   Members   -  Reputation: 153

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Posted 11 December 2003 - 05:50 AM

Yep, FFOrigins has automatic retargetting for killed opponents in both FF1 and FF2. What I want to know is how the "overkill" situation got past playtesting in the first place.

Persistent status effects can be OK - though I also like the FFTA system whereby all characters get restored to optimum condition between fights.

An example of combining RPG elements with Soul Caliber style combat is One Must Fall - which had a campaign mode where, by taking your avatar through fights (arranged into 4 tournaments) you earned money (once you''d paid for repairs) that could be spent on upgrading your stats and entering new tournaments (at the end of each tournament, you''d better keep enough spare cash to sign on for a new one...). In my opinion, the campaign mode turned a so-so fighter into a great game, and also used the statistics well. For example, initially, you have a very low speed stat, and as a result you can''t really do any combos. As your speed increases, you can start hitting in sufficiently rapid succession to put a combo together...

My usual complaint about FF-style combat is that it mostly reduces to a one-dimensional optimisation problem (at least by the time you''ve played more than half the game) - you know which attacks do most damage, and which moves heal most effectively, so the only decision you make in most encounters is whether to attack or heal on each turn, and that''s effectively a matter of choosing a threshhold value for party health. You could design an AI to fight the routine fights for you and tune its parameters between fights if necessary (put in the option of taking over, and set a panic condition where it will hand over to you automatically, and you''re done). Some of the FF games offer variations like choosing whether to steal items/draw magic, but most of the time, I''d be quite happy just casting beserk on most of my party (keeping one person under my control for emergencies) and watching the fight.

#50 Iron Chef Carnage   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1826

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Posted 11 December 2003 - 07:05 AM

Are there any good examples of games with tournament fighter-quality combat and decent RPG content? I can''t really think of any. Star Ocean 2, i guess. True Crime was somewhat close, but fell short in both categories. I suppose that if something like Oni had stats and levels, it would work out, but it was entirely based on combat. What kind of resources does it take to build that level of combat gameplay, and can a game with the fighting of Soul Caliber II and the story/XP levels of Final Fantasy X really be feasible?

Look at it this way: Tournament fighers are one vs. one. A good RPG combat sequence often involves at least multiple enemies, and usually multiple player characters. There are two very real risks with adapting tournament fighter controls to a bigger fight: You might make it impossible to fight more than one guy at a time, or have a clumsy "lock" system, or you might abandon locks altogether, and have your guy flailing through a combo while the baddies stroll around behind you. Both suck.

I''d say a more general, action/adventure style control scheme would be more appropriate. Something like Zelda or Mark of Kri would work pretty well. I was even thinking about a hybrid between Diablo and Rune. Remember Rune? It was a UT-powered stand-alone with third-person view and viking-style swordfighting. If you had a more dynamic weapon system, some magic powers and a better game, that idea could have been neat. The fighting in Rune was sickeningly simple, but not as simple as Everquest.

And by the way, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance totally owns Soul Caliber II.

#51 cbass2   Members   -  Reputation: 138

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Posted 13 December 2003 - 09:06 PM

really like the discussion so far.

anyways, because most rpg''s i played have boring battle systems, im in the middle of designing a game with a (hopefully) more interesting and fun battle system. keep in mind im only one man so im limiting myself to single player, turn based battle system. here are some key points.

1.infrequent random incounters (also im gonna include an item that can either attract or repel random enemies depending on their relative strength)

2.make enemies genuenly "hard" and take many turns to beat, but the pace of the battle will be fast so as not to bore the player

2. very stratigic fighting. (one way im doing this is all enemies have a degree of each of the game''s strengths/weaknesses like fire,ice, ect, but right now my list is 50+. from there i can design some interesting situations.

3. player will have many choices for each "turn". more than the standard fight, magic, item

4. AI of heros will be very configuarable and hopefully "smart" to avoid boring and obvious choices by the player like "heal my partner that has 2 hp"

5. always keep battle moving. Never have the player siting and watching an animation (like ffX), always have his next options available

open to any suggestions on how to improve upon this outline.




no funny sig yet

#52 Ingenu   Members   -  Reputation: 827

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Posted 13 December 2003 - 11:11 PM

None of you ever played Grandia 2 or what ?
Everything in that game is perfect or almost, the only ''weak'' point, which isn''t even IMO, is that there are not many sidequests.


Random Encounters:
None, all ennemies are shown on screen and so can be dodged to avoid encounters altogether.


Battles:
Fast paced combat, character moving across the battlefield, capable of breaking attack with good timing. Ennemies have weakness that makes them easier to beat down, provided you find them.
Attack, Special Attack, Combo, Break, Magic, Item; that covers pretty much everything you might want to do, not making the system too complex.

All things being able to act inlvoved in a battles are seen on the mini timeline.
(things cause some monsters can have more than one ''body part'' that can acts independetly of the others, such as a plant monster.)

Mini Timeline divided in 2 phases and 2 "events":
-''Wait'' phase during which your character just recovers from previous Action, so its duration depends on the previous Action.
-''COM'' event @ which you choose your Action.
-''Ready'' phase, in which the character ready the Action, duration is Action dependant.
-''Act'' event @ which the character move and acts.

Using ''Break'' attack against an ennemy in the ''Ready'' phase cancels its action, against an ennemy in ''Wait'' phase, that makes it moves backward along the timeline = that costs it time.


Heroes AI:
Different modes available (protect, defend, attack...), with ''override'' option to control each and every character of the party.



-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-


#53 rmsgrey   Members   -  Reputation: 153

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 05:47 AM

I think it''s already been mentioned, but Kingdom Hearts uses a loosely Zelda style combat system with up to two AI "wingmen" who can be set to attack specific targets, or asked to help you (in return, they expect you to respond to their cries for help). The underlying XP system is pure SquareSoft, and could almost have been taken out of an FF game (it is a little simplified though). Enemies usually appear out of thin air when you pass trigger points, but are clearly not actually random, and in most cases disappear again if you ignore them and keep moving past. There are three two-button combos to which it''s possible to set any known magic spell and avoid trawling through menus. It is also possible to trawl through menus to access unusual commands (I usually only use it for summoning and the (very) occasional item).

Having the fights take place in real time, with approximately continuous position and timing allowing player skill to influence the outcome (unlike the traditional FF systems, where the only skill comes in executing limit-techniques or in pressing the "action" button as fast as possible to queue attacks asap in the psuedo-realtime system of FF8)

#54 Iron Chef Carnage   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1826

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 11:31 AM

To be honest, I don''t much like long battles. At the end of the day it''s a problem with the HP system, but there''s nothing I hate more than fighting an enemy with 40,000 HP that really just amounts to 40 enemies with 1,000 HP. Against a weak enemy you attack, heal, attack and it dies. Against the huge enemy you attack, heal, attack, heal, attack, heal, attack, heal, attack, heal, attack, heal, attack, heal, attack, heal, attack, heal, attack and it dies. Jesus. It''s like a war of erosion, and it gives me an opportunity to employ a word I recently learned here: nerfing.

A nerf battle is torturous. One thing that I always hated about advancing in an RPG is the knowledge that I''ll have to spend fifteen minutes in every battle until I''m on absurdly high levels (at which time the "battle start" animation and the "battle end" animation will take far longer than the battle itself). Watching my guys go back and forth with the bad guy, exchanging blows with huge swords and monstrous claws, annoys me to no end. I''d rather see them go rounds than just smack, smack, smack, smack until one falls.

Instead of an "attack" being a one-shot deal, why not turn it into more of a command? Okay, I used to play Magic: The Gathering, and I always liked the idea that when a creature attacked and was blocked, those two critters would duke it out. If one died, then it died, but often as not they both pulled through with some injuries. Why not use a system like that for a CRPG? When Hero attacks Monster, have them come together and go at it. Experience levels, equipment, and external augmentations would come into play to determine the outcome. A supertough swordsman might be able to emerge unscathed from a fight with a novice soldier, but if two decent pugilists measure up, they''ll both lose some teeth.

It would approximate the back-and-forth combat of FF-style RPGs, but would condense the encounters. You could even have a list of "counter" skills that you would be able to choose when your character was targetted. I''d rather see my cleric teleporting or dodging than just taking a hit, and I''d really like to see some planned counterattacks. You could build in a sophisticated (or simple) paper-rock-scissors system for this.

#55 Ingenu   Members   -  Reputation: 827

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 11:59 PM

quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
If one died, then it died, but often as not they both pulled through with some injuries. Why not use a system like that for a CRPG? When Hero attacks Monster, have them come together and go at it. Experience levels, equipment, and external augmentations would come into play to determine the outcome. A supertough swordsman might be able to emerge unscathed from a fight with a novice soldier, but if two decent pugilists measure up, they''ll both lose some teeth.


Gameplay : the art of meaningfull interactions.

I don''t see any in the system you talk about.
People like to choose the ''super attack of sudden death that hurts badly'', they like to control what''s happening, not watching out, it''s a game not a movie.

Yet, I agree that a more lethal game system would be more interesting and realistic, that means that you could probably kill an ennemy in as little as one hit.
Still what would be the meaningfull interactions the player will have to take ? Choosing an attack ? Choosing a defense ? Choosing a combat style ?
I can see a game using a battle system like in Jedi Knight.
But that puts a lot on player''s skills... Which most RPG try to avoid using, so maybe a "Use Character Skill" option ?




-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-


#56 Muhammad Haggag   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1357

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 12:13 AM

[edit] Stupid me. Posted a reply to a very early post. Didn't see the "3 pages" thing.

[edited by - Coder on December 16, 2003 7:17:16 AM]

#57 Raghar   Members   -  Reputation: 92

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 11:49 AM

quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
To be honest, I don''t much like long battles. At the end of the day it''s a problem with the HP system, but there''s nothing I hate more than fighting an enemy with 40,000 HP that really just amounts to 40 enemies with 1,000 HP. Against a weak enemy you attack, heal, attack and it dies. Against the huge enemy you attack, heal, attack, heal, attack, heal, attack, heal, attack, heal, attack, heal, attack, heal, attack, heal, attack, heal, attack and it dies. Jesus. It''s like a war of erosion, and it gives me an opportunity to employ a word I recently learned here: nerfing.

A nerf battle is torturous. One thing that I always hated about advancing in an RPG is the knowledge that I''ll have to spend fifteen minutes in every battle until I''m on absurdly high levels (at which time the "battle start" animation and the "battle end" animation will take far longer than the battle itself). Watching my guys go back and forth with the bad guy, exchanging blows with huge swords and monstrous claws, annoys me to no end. I''d rather see them go rounds than just smack, smack, smack, smack until one falls.

Instead of an "attack" being a one-shot deal, why not turn it into more of a command? Okay, I used to play Magic: The Gathering, and I always liked the idea that when a creature attacked and was blocked, those two critters would duke it out. If one died, then it died, but often as not they both pulled through with some injuries. Why not use a system like that for a CRPG? When Hero attacks Monster, have them come together and go at it. Experience levels, equipment, and external augmentations would come into play to determine the outcome. A supertough swordsman might be able to emerge unscathed from a fight with a novice soldier, but if two decent pugilists measure up, they''ll both lose some teeth.

It would approximate the back-and-forth combat of FF-style RPGs, but would condense the encounters. You could even have a list of "counter" skills that you would be able to choose when your character was targetted. I''d rather see my cleric teleporting or dodging than just taking a hit, and I''d really like to see some planned counterattacks. You could build in a sophisticated (or simple) paper-rock-scissors system for this.



Have you playerd Tales of Eternia II? I was on fairy low level and didn''t have all supposed moves, it took me 2.5 hour to finish that battle. My hands hurt a lot. And then after he was dead he vaporised me, so I had to do it again. Three times actually. On the third time I have got a brain.

To take everything on just one roll wouldn''t be interesting.
BTW I remmember in FF combat when your opponent healed or something like that and battle started again.
In fact if computer oponent managed to hold enough time he could win on exhaustion. ~_^ I remmember when I healed in Crawl then healed then healed. It surely wasn''t heal and slash. It was more I hope I''d heal enough and dodge next attack so I could get away from that ACID blob. Yes combat, in Crawl, could last one turn by your death.
I''m against simplicism, becose it wont solve anything. The problem isn''t putting more AI into your characters so they would do something more than they just should, but also some AI into opponents. Can you imagine end of FF5 with better AI? It would be nearly unplayable. Then again Omega is nearly always somewhat more difficult, and nobody rants about it.


#58 Iron Chef Carnage   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1826

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 03:22 PM

I suppose I did a poor job of communicating my idea. I'll try again.

The outcome of physical engagements is, the vast majority of the time, decided by a relatively simple algorithm. Descended from the P&P RPGs of old, things like Armor Class, Attack, Defense, and the associated modifiers are packaged such that a human with a handful of dice can calculate randomness and declare a result before the other players fall asleep or go do something else.

Computer solutions have included more variables, higher resolution in randomness, and extra modifiers. Each of these developments has served to complicate the mathematical computations and multiply the possible outcomes. This is good, and couldn't be done without computers (See Helios's Cows). But things like Armor Class, HP, and item-based stats continue to be anachronistic. I'm no expert in modern combat algorithms, and I'm sure a dozen examples contrary to my next statement are available, but the trend is still there: Boss battles and Player vs. Player fights are so nerfed up that the determination of a winner is based on repeated, often redundant, brute force calculations.

The evolution from P&P to CRPG is incomplete, and the archaic design elements are becoming more obvious as the rest of the system advances, like wagon wheels on a Porsche. Except in cases of specialized attacks or unique items/maneuvers, combat in RPGs is a matter of exchanging blows. If your HP is high enough to risk an attack, you go for it, and if it isn't you drink another magical potion and hunker down. That was how I beat the boss of Dragon Warrior, and that's how you beat the boss of Final Fantasy X. Keep those ethers and potions flowing, and use your strongest attack when the Jecht Beam misses. It's a war of attrition, a powers test to see if you've jacked your stats sufficiently to stand there and take reaming after reaming from attacks that level cities in cutscenes. Totally ridiculous, yet every RPG has it.

Think of how an actual fight between two swordsmen of matched caliber might go. They close, one initiates an attack, the other has a choice to dodge, block, pre-empt, or do any number of other things. Beat attacks, distance parries, blade parries, etc. are all available to a trained swordsman, so the average straight attack is generally unsuccessful, but can be used to facilitate a more successful attack combination, or else used to kill puppies and much slower opponents. I myself have received blurringly fast straight attack to the noggin as a saber fencer, and know that it works, but generally it only works once.

The counterattack is the most underused element of RPG combat in the history of the genre. Sometimes an item facilitates it, other times it's an acquired skill, and in a bare minimum of situations it's inherent to the character. So that first attack is met, and the target either deals with it and re-engages, or deals with it and disengages. My theoretical system terminates with the disengage, since at that time muscle memory is overridden by reason and the player should be able to participate in the reassessment of the situation.

Now, all of this potential is condensed into a simple algorithm that results in either a miss, a hit, or a CRITICAL HIT. A hero with 3,452 HP can withstand 20 hits from enemy X, or 10 from enemy Y, or 3 from enemy Z, or 1.2 from the boss. So you get whacked by the boss, you heal, you get whacked, you heal, until finally he misses, and you hit him, or he gets a critical, and you have to use a Pheonix Down. Jesus. If the guy is that tough, you shouldn't be fighting him.

In normal battles, a more sophisticated HP system and combat simulation will suffice, although the combat simulation can be done internally, without graphical representation. Fallout had all kinds of target zones. You could break limbs or blind other characters, and although I never really had one do it to me, the status screen seemed to indicate a possibility of such crippling blows being dealth to the player as well. It wasn't a perfect system, and had many of the shortcomings I mentioned above, so don't bust my balls about hypocrisy. I'm just citing one feature.

The point is that when two guys fight, having one run over a hack the other and then reversing roles is bizarre and inadequate. Reaction needs to factor in more. Better to have a 10% chance of doing serious harm than a 98% chance of sort of nicking the guy. Now a game with a 10% hit rate would suck, because you'd have to issue the "attack" command ten times before anything came of it. Hence the "engagement" ove "attack" system. You're guy goes in, engages the baddie, they try to kill each other, and either one comes out on top or they stalemate. Then you get involved again. I'd give a bunch of scenarios here, but it's already a huge post, so you'll have to deal with theory.

Boss battles can be done away with entirely in my opinion, unless the boss is one guy that's as tough as you are, and thus has even odds of winning. A half-dozen tough bad guys is good enough for me. Or better yet, a balanced party of skilled opponents to match your group. But fighting a beast the size of a hotel casino that just ate the moon is too crazy to contemplate. It always has to have some weak point that you can reach with a stick while it's massive claws rend your flesh (to be promptly put right with a High Potion). Those battle suck. A lot. Now, that's my opinion, and I'm sure there is a whole Zeromus fan club out there, but it's my (huge) post, and I'll say what I like.

Editted for clarity.

[edited by - Iron Chef Carnage on December 16, 2003 10:39:52 PM]

#59 Ingenu   Members   -  Reputation: 827

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 11:23 PM

I''ll never say enough how stupid it is to use Pen & Paper RPG rules in a computer game. Those rules were made for easiness, so that every player around the table can compute the results and everything goes smooth.
Computer can do much more complex things, just like you don''t simulate physics in a P&P RPG, but computer games do...

Now you said why P&P RPG sucks in a computer game, which I agree with, I still fail to see where you give us an idea of a system that would be interesting gameplay wise.

You have basically two options:
-Rely on player skills (FPS, RTS, Mario, Zelda, Outcast...)
-Rely on character skills (most CRPG, FF, Grandia2...)

The first option will lead to a battle system like the one in Jedi Knight, fast paced, deadly, impressive, but with little strategy.

The second option can lead to:
-choose an action from a menu for your character, and watch the result, since a battle is made over many actions, it gives you strategy choices. (FF...)
-choose a weapon and select an ennemy, the character will attack it until it''s killed or you change target, no menu, somewhat more freedom since you can move/select weapon or spell/select a target. You can even do hit & run tactics...


What''s your idea ?

-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-


#60 Iron Chef Carnage   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1826

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 09:50 AM

My idea is similar, from a gameplay perspective, to the standard CRPG Final Fantasy method. However, what I propose is a more intricate use of time in the system. I tried not to outline an actual system, because it would invariably have led the discussion into a high-resolution analysis of my prototype, which loses sight of the idea, but I see now that I have little choice in the matter. I''ll do my best.

First, though, some more preaching on the idea. If it bothers you, call me a nasty name and skip my post. My objective is to take a few of the things that current RPGs represent with progress bars, attack animations or hit points and replace them with the actual events for which they stand in.

For this small example, I''ll address HP, active turn meters, and simple attacks. I''m not going to get into magic, or super attacks, or whatever. This will be very basic, and I do not intend it as a game idea. Purely hypothetical; purely academic.

HP, as I stated in a post on the A RPG Without Numbers? thread, isn''t just the pain level and blood loss of a character. It''s a constellation of factors, including physical endurance, evasive capabilities, blocking ability, and in some cases item properties. So when a guy has 500 HP, and can withstand 3 "hits" from an ogre, no RPG designer ever intended that to mean that this guy could take a punch from a twelve-foot monster and keep fighting. HP is "hit points" not "health points". More recently, however, with potions and ethers and such, HP has become a reserve of strength, a cushion to absorb blows. No P&P character could survive having an arrow shot through his eye socket. HP was his ability to escape it, not to withstand it.

So, in CRPGs, where computing power is available and can be used to simulate things like endurance, speed, dodging, blocking, and geometrically accurate hit detection interacting with armor placement, simply awarding a character with 55 more HP at level-up is an anachronism. Better to let that character dodge, or block, or take it on the shield than to just let him absorb another axe-blow. After all, a sword going through the torso of an experienced warrior would do just as much damage as that same sword going through the torso of a serf, or a wizard, it''s just way harder to get that sword into the warrior, on account of his armor, his smarts, and his spear. That''s my take on HP.

Active turn meters are a relatively new phenomenon in CRPGs. I think I first saw them in Final Fantasy 2 (4). The idea is that a little meter fills up at a pace modified by the character''s attributes and equipment, and when it''s full, they get to do something. It''s a quantum leap from "turn-based" games, but it''s still flawed. What is the character doing during that time? Catching his breath? Looking around? Re-establishing a psionic link with the player? No. That feature was intended to cause actions to take time. A slow character takes longer to walk up to the bad guy and stab him than a fast player does, and so what you''re doing is paying the time in advance, and then executing the action instantaneously. It doesn''t take into account things like what kind of attack it was (unless you take casting time into account) or other nuances of the event. Even a slow character can quaff a potion faster than a fast character can run across the battlefield and stick a knife in an orc. A better way to represent the consumption of time must be found.

Attacks are the lamest element of modern CRPGs, but their lameness is closely related to the highly simplified HP system that''s still around. In a nutshell, you hit the "attack" button, your guy sprints over to the target, hacks it mightily, then runs back to formation and chills out while his speed meter refills. Maybe in that time the baddie lumbers over and gives him a scratch or two. The important thing, though, is that all those fancy animations and graphics are but a mask being held up in front of a couple of twenty-sided dice. In an attempt to fancy the system up, things like dodges and parries have been added in, but of course these features are redundant and cosmetic, since their influence on battle has been included already, under the blanket of HP.

Again, modern computing techniques can be brought to the rescue. The numerous factors that are lumped into HP, the clumsy inclusion of time, and the mechanical foundations of attacks are three persistent weaknesses that can be eliminated simultaneously. Here''s how:

A warrior with a sword engages a warrior with an axe. They''ll be referred to by the names of their weapons. For dramatic effect, they''re alone and evenly skilled.

At the outset of the battle, the characters choose actions simultaneously. Speed is not yet a factor. Each selects an action and a target. For this example, there will be only two actions: Engage and Evade.

===================

Sword engages Axe.
Axe engages Sword.

They run, in realtime, toward one another, slowing as they approach contact distance. Sword, being a little faster/smarter/crazier, attacks first, with some kind of slash. Axe manages to dadge the attack by stepping backward, but he is already beginning his counterrattack, a two-handed swing of his massive weapon. Sword, recovering from his first swing, uses his sword to partially deflect the axe and duck under it, and darts a thrust toward Axe. It glances off of Axe''s armor. Axe, using his inertia, comes around again, and sword is forced to disengage and retreat a few steps. The whole thing took about three seconds, and now the player gets to choose another action.

That event was what the active turn meter represents. Both characters have now ended their active attack. Nobody was hurt, but Sword is a little off-balance, so Axe gets to a "stable position" first, and so his player gets to choose an action first.

Axe engages Sword

The choice is made to press the advantage. While Axe takes a few menacing steps to close distance with Sword, Sword gets his act together and chooses his next move.

Sword evades Axe

Sword makes a little feint, and when Axe starts winding up his chopper, Sword gets the crap out of there. He gets out of range and circles a little way to Axe''s left flank, then he''s ready to go again.

Sword engages Axe

Axe is still recovering from his ineffective attack, so when Sword descends on him, he just barely gets the chance to respond. A clumsy block stops Sword''s first attack, but his follow-up cuts Axe pretty badly in the leg. Despite this distraction, Axe keeps his feet and while Sword recovers from his lunge,

Axe evades Sword

========================

And so on. Now, before you start, bear in mind that this was a showcase of the system, and although it seems to be slow and clumsy, the above encounter would take about twelve seconds, not counting decision-time.

In a more casual fight, between Sword and two Imps, it would look like this:

==================

Sword engages Imp1
Imp1 engages Sword
Imp2 engages Sword

Sword closes distance swiftly, beats Imp1''s little spear out of the way and sticks his own blade through Imp1''s head. Imp1 dies. Imp2 takes a shot at Sword from the right, but Sword''s agility and skill allow him to deftly deflect the blow. Imp is now off-balance, and so Sword gets the next move.

Sword engages Imp2

Sword swings his sword at Imp2, and Imp2''s shoddy defensive stance manages only to deflect Sword''s blade enough to earn him a serious chop in the left arm. Now Imp2 get''s to go.

Imp2 evades Sword

Imp2 heads for the hills, but sword is ready to act almost before Imp2 turns around, so the next command,

Sword engages Imp2

Has Sword taking three quick strides and decapitating the imp from behind.

==========================

Four-second battle. No HP (in the classic sense, anyway), no timers, and no exchanging of blows. XP system does its thing, and back to the overworld map, or whatever.

That''s not a perfect expression of what i have in mind, but it should help clarify it. And again, this game would not be much fun, due to the simplicity and limit of choice. It''s not a game, it''s just an example of three aspects of my argument. I may or may not be way off topic.




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