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rKallmeyer

Player Skill vs Character Skill

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rKallmeyer    396
I'm creating this post to get your opinions on the distinction between Player Skill and Character Skill. It would appear to me that very little attention is given to the matter and game design thus suffers for it. Let me start by giving a template definition for each. Player Skill Player skill refers to the ability of the player to play the game. Usually, the following two things determine player skill: Controls On the low end this would be hand-to-eye coordination, and on the high end this would be the twitch reflexes required in a game like ninja gaiden or Quake 3. This is a physical reference. Strategies The player's understanding and mastery of winning strategies. On the low end this would be knowing that holes=death in an old school game like Mario. On the high end this would be a multiplayer battle plan in War Craft III. This is a mental reference. Benefits: 1.No saving of progression is required. Getting good at a game is like learning to ride a bike, so if you leave and come back 6 months later you can start where you left off because you will still be just as good. 2.Tactical and Strategic Immersion go hand in hand with player skill, meaning that players who get good also get into the game. When a player does something cool like swinging flawlessly through skyscrapers in spider man 2, the player really feels like they are doing it. Drawbacks: 1.Harder to measure progression. The only way to measure Player Skill is by looking at results. In some situations this is perfectly fine, in other situations players might feel like they aren't getting recognition enough. Character Skill Character skill refers to the perceived character progression. When you here the term "RPG elements", think character skill. Levels, Hit points, Speed, items, wealth, ext. can all fall under the banner of Character Skill. Increasing Character Skill is generally a process of reputation in which some form of experience points are awarded resulting in benefits to the character. Benefits: 1.Easily measurable progression. A level 20 character is better then a level 1 character. 2.Narrative Immersion generally accompanies Character Skill. Because the player is spending time to learn and progress with the character, he/she feels a much stronger connection with them, and hence cares about the resulting story. Drawbacks: Starting a new game really means starting a new game. It doesn't matter if you have spent the time to level up your character to 99; if you forget to save and start over again, your character sucks. In the past, most games have opted to include one dominant skill or the other. Most Role Playing Games use a 'Character Skill' dominant model. While strategies are present, they really fill the role of icing on the cake. The key factor in winning the game is your characters experience and level. The better players are the players who have been playing longer. Most Action Games use an exclusive 'Player Skill' model. No levels, every player has the same stats, and the only thing that makes one player better then the other is the player's ability to player game better. Recently, games have begun to include a good mix of Player Skill and Character Skill. Good examples would include games like Kingdom Hearts, Ratchet and Clank, and THUG. When it comes to what is 'best' I think it is a matter of personal preference. My question is this, how have you implemented Character Skill or Player Skill in your games? What do you think is best? And would you define them differently?

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Spoonbender    1258
Depends on the game type, of course, but as a general rule, I'd say that in an ideal game, everything should rely on a combination of the two. An example would be when driving a car. Your character skill might improve handling, or maybe even extend your view range, but you still have to control the car yourself, like in a racing game.

Or maybe your character's aiming skill could work like the autoaim option in most FPS games. Once the crosshair is within a minimum distance from the target, it'll jump to point straight at the target.

Still, depends on the game. In a FPS game, relying on player skill works pretty well.
In RPG's, some element of character is clearly neccesary, but should it be all there is to it?

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Wysardry    244
We're still in the planning stage of our game, so the details are a little vague, but I believe the emphasis will be almost entirely on character skill (it's a CRPG).

Some people have even requested that turn based combat be included so that their own lack of speed or dexterity is less of an issue.

It makes more sense to me for a CRPG to be based on character skill as few players are likely to be able to cast spells or repair weapons in real life.

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thedevdan    210
But people can't take seven bullets in the face, either, or jump four times their height. Games like those often times don't require leveling up, yet aren't realistic. And, you know what? They are fun. Whether what happens in the game is possible in real life should not be the deciding factor as to whether reflexes should be involved. Plus, even if it possibble in real life, you probably wouldn't do it by pressing buttons on a controller/keyboard.

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rKallmeyer    396
Remember that Player Skill also includes Strategies. A game that has only character skill wouldn't really be a game at all. Make sure not to neglect the Player Skill aspect of your game or you might end up with a fan base full of zombies.

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Wysardry    244
Quote:
Original post by thedevdan
But people can't take seven bullets in the face, either, or jump four times their height. Games like those often times don't require leveling up, yet aren't realistic. And, you know what? They are fun. Whether what happens in the game is possible in real life should not be the deciding factor as to whether reflexes should be involved. Plus, even if it possibble in real life, you probably wouldn't do it by pressing buttons on a controller/keyboard.

I'm not sure whether you're agreeing or disagreeing with me here (or even if your post was in response to mine), so I'll clarify what I meant to be on the safe side.

I wasn't suggesting that what is possible in the real world should have any bearing on what is possible in a game, merely that most players wouldn't have the necessary skills in real life.

I agree, you shouldn't base several dozen character skills on a player's skill with a mouse and/or keyboard.

Quote:
Original post by Nuget5555
Remember that Player Skill also includes Strategies. A game that has only character skill wouldn't really be a game at all. Make sure not to neglect the Player Skill aspect of your game or you might end up with a fan base full of zombies.

It would be very difficult to make that mistake as I've yet to see a CRPG (or any other game come to that) where "strategy" was a skill handled entirely by the computer - at least as far as player characters are concerned.

Personally, I view it as being part of the decision making process, which has to be handled by the player or they would be watching - not playing - a role. In fact, I'm against automating tasks for this very reason, but that's another story. [smile]

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rKallmeyer    396
Quote:
It would be very difficult to make that mistake as I've yet to see a CRPG (or any other game come to that) where "strategy" was a skill handled entirely by the computer - at least as far as player characters are concerned.

I am very much in agreement with you. Unfortunetly though, while playing many RPGs these days, it seems like many developers have taken it for granted.

Quote:
Personally, I view it as being part of the decision making process, which has to be handled by the player or they would be watching - not playing - a role. In fact, I'm against automating tasks for this very reason, but that's another story.

Apperently you arn't one of those developers ;) Which is good.

BTW, What is the 'C' in CRPG stand for? :)

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Wysardry    244
I used to enjoy creating maps and writing notes when playing CRPGs, but most games these days tend to do that and half a dozen other tasks for you. If the trend continues, games will become yet another form of movie.

The "C" in CRPG stands for "computer" (or possibly "console"), to avoid confusion with traditional pencil and paper or board variations.

It isn't included in MORPG and MMORPG abbreviations as the "O" part makes it redundant.

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Way Walker    745
Ya know, I'm not so sure that a CRPG where there was little player skill would be quite as evil as it's being made out to be. There seem to be two main criticisms about this:

1) It'd basically make it a movie
2) It makes zombies of the player

However, there are two main draws to CRPG's:

1) The story aspect
2) The cultivation aspect

and, I think, the first draw negates the first criticism and the second negates the second. Those who play RPG's "for the story" may as well watch a movie. Those who play RPG's to cultivate a character don't care for player control skill in the game. Player strategy skill should exist, but needn't be much. As long as there's some interesting choice that makes some difference, it should satisfy the cultivator. (e.g. Tomagachi, which I'm not sure I spelled correctly)

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I personally dislike control type skills mainly because I prefer learning what to do than how to do it, and secondly I end up struggling with how the game runs on my hardware. Nothing will ever feel snappy enough and I'll always be paranoid that everybody else's rich dad paid for their supercomputer just to beat me in games.

But the player does have to be doing something, making some kind of decisions or actions, and there has to be a great depth to that, whatever it is, in order to give a feeling of depth to the game and stop people from getting bored.

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lonesock    807
I think that most FPS games _do_ include a type of character skill. In the case where you start out with a pistol, and by the end of the game have the BFG (or equivalent), the weapons available are the character skill. It is, of course, much easier to kill with a rocket launcher than a fist. You just "leveled up" on weapons.

At least in 1-player mode. Typically in multiplayer, you just have to know where to go on a specific map. Maybe an enhancement would be to unlock better weapons for players only after their first N kills.

Other than better gadgets, and auto-aiming (which I really don't like, personally), I can't think of any mechanisims for doing character skills in FPS games. Any suggestions?

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thedevdan    210
Quote:
Original post by Wysardry
Quote:
Original post by thedevdan
But people can't take seven bullets in the face, either, or jump four times their height. Games like those often times don't require leveling up, yet aren't realistic. And, you know what? They are fun. Whether what happens in the game is possible in real life should not be the deciding factor as to whether reflexes should be involved. Plus, even if it possibble in real life, you probably wouldn't do it by pressing buttons on a controller/keyboard.

I'm not sure whether you're agreeing or disagreeing with me here (or even if your post was in response to mine), so I'll clarify what I meant to be on the safe side.

I wasn't suggesting that what is possible in the real world should have any bearing on what is possible in a game, merely that most players wouldn't have the necessary skills in real life.

I agree, you shouldn't base several dozen character skills on a player's skill with a mouse and/or keyboard.


I was disagreeing with this comment:

Quote:
It makes more sense to me for a CRPG to be based on character skill as few players are likely to be able to cast spells or repair weapons in real life.


I was saying that most things that happen in games can't be done in real life, but it is still very fun to control it (ie: player skill). Whether or not something is dependent on your playing skill should not rely on whether or not it is possible to do i n real life.

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Wysardry    244
The difference between "real life" skills and fictitious skills is that the player is likely to have a better understanding of what the former involves doing. For example, even if you cannot drive a car, you probably have at least a basic understanding of the concepts of steering, changing gear, accelerating and braking. I doubt there are many people who know what is involved in casting a fireball spell, and even if they were, it is unlikely that standard input devices could approximate it.

If you can't accept that, there are other reasons why character skills should be separate from player skills in CRPGs.

First and foremost, the player is not the playable character and vice versa. The game character should not have skill advantages or disadvantages based on how well the player can use input devices.

For example, if the player spends 100 hours playing a character and becomes expert at using the mouse controls, when (s)he starts a new game, the fact that the player is now adept with a mouse shouldn't make the new character better at using his/her skills.

You also can't base multiple character abilities on a single player ability. If the player learns how to use a control device efficiently by spending hours swinging a sword, his/her proficiency shouldn't make the character skilled at healing wounds if that hasn't been practised as much.

The player should be in control of when and where to use each skill, but the actual application of it (and it's success or failure) should depend on the character's abilities. In other words, only the player's strategy and/or decision-making skills are used.

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thedevdan    210
Quote:
The difference between "real life" skills and fictitious skills is that the player is likely to have a better understanding of what the former involves doing. For example, even if you cannot drive a car, you probably have at least a basic understanding of the concepts of steering, changing gear, accelerating and braking. I doubt there are many people who know what is involved in casting a fireball spell, and even if they were, it is unlikely that standard input devices could approximate it.


Very true. But tell me, why does that matter if people have a basic understanding of what they are doing in a game? What if, in an action game, there is a teleport ability. Should you not be allowed to control that directly because you don't know how? You said driving a car is fine because most people have a basic understanding of it. What about airplaines? Tanks? Shooting fireballs out of your hand (Mario)?

Also, could you make a FPS that instead of using guns, you cast spells? Apperently not, because people don't have a basic understanding of it. Remember, games are for fun. if it is fun, have it in there.

Quote:
If you can't accept that, there are other reasons why character skills should be separate from player skills in CRPGs.

First and foremost, the player is not the playable character and vice versa. The game character should not have skill advantages or disadvantages based on how well the player can use input devices.

For example, if the player spends 100 hours playing a character and becomes expert at using the mouse controls, when (s)he starts a new game, the fact that the player is now adept with a mouse shouldn't make the new character better at using his/her skills.


See my next point.

Quote:
You also can't base multiple character abilities on a single player ability. If the player learns how to use a control device efficiently by spending hours swinging a sword, his/her proficiency shouldn't make the character skilled at healing wounds if that hasn't been practised as much.


You seem to think that having player skill invovled means that you can't have abilties that you learn, weapons you unlock, etc. You can make it that the more a player uses a sword, the more potential damage they can do with it. Same with spells. That can easily co-exist with having reflexes/etc. involved (look at Zelda)!

Quote:
The player should be in control of when and where to use each skill, but the actual application of it (and it's success or failure) should depend on the character's abilities. In other words, only the player's strategy and/or decision-making skills are used.


That is your conclusion and what I have been responding to the whole time, so I don't have anything else to add. All I can say is this:

You can think a game is more fun if they have little control over what actually happens, but that doesn't mean that the reason that it would be more fun would be because the player doesn't know how do what the character in the game is doing in real life, as I explained.

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frostburn    380
Hi. I'll start with an example:
XIII is a FPS that had a few character skills. Example, sniper - without it the player must compensate for wobbly rifle (it moves all over the place) and with it the rifle is rock steady - point and click. It seems like a good idea, but the difference was just too great. There were other skills as well, but I can't remember what.

Some ideas:
Character skills:
FPS - Sniping skill. The player can push a button to make the character hold his breath. This causes the rifle to wobble less. Levelup: He can hold his breath longer.

FPS - Shooting on the move (Rainbow Six games, but IIRC they hadn't character skill). The weapons have a "hit cone" - the narrower the cone the more accurate the shooting. When the character is moving the cone expands and when he stops and takes aim the cone slowly gets narrower. Levelup: Max cone diameter gets smaller, contracting speed on aiming gets faster and expansion speed on movement gets lower.

FPS - aiming. Auto-targetting, or increased damage. Levelup: the character hits the target more easily where he aims (not aim for centre of body and gets a head shot). This can be simulated by increasing the damage instead of redirecting the aim. When doing collision detection to see if he hit you can use "tube vs poly" instead of "ray vs poly" - high level = large diameter of tube (not extremely large, but perhaps a few inches. Enough to make a near miss a hit).

RPG - spellcasting (see below as well). The character can memorize spells. Spellcasting uses mana/energy that slowly recharges. Levelup: Can remember more and more advanced spells, max mana increases and recharge speed increase (possibly several different skills). Combined with a gesture based spellcasting system the game displays a "guide" when casting memorized spells. If the spell is not memorized no guides are shown. It may also be possible to make the gestures less strict when casting memorized spells - the game already knows what spell he's casting so it doesn't matter if they're not drawn perfectly. An alternative is to use audio cues - when clicking on the memorized spell icon the computer plays sounds (the name of the gesture or something) to help the player remember which gesture he should draw. Naturally this is more difficult (no visible cues/guides) so it could be used on low levels, or high difficulty settings.

Player skills
RPG - spellcasting. Gesture based, like in Arx Fatalis. The player draws gestures on the screen to cast spells. When he gets better he can draw the gestures faster and more accurately.
A loom-like (they used musical note drawing) system could also be used - Instead of drawing gestures the player must click correct buttons in a specific order to cast the desired spell. An example can be the "words of power" like in the Ultima games (In Ultima the spells were in a spellbook, no player skill) - Vis An Flam could be fireball, and Vis Am Flam could mean "set player on fire", which could be bad :)

RPG - fighting. like in Gothic and also in Sierra On-Line's Quest for Glory games. The player decides what move to use - swing high, swing low, thrusting, kicking, parrying, dodging, etc. Quest for Glory had a 3rd person view of the PC and his enemy and they had a repartoire of moves and counter-moves. A swing could be parryed, but not dodged, a thrust could be dodged but not parryed etc.
Character skills include speed increase - he recovers faster from a miss, stikes faster and executes dodges and parrys faster.
Strength plays a part in damage dealt, and could also be used in parry (a troll could strike through a parry or knock the weapon out of his hand unless the PC is very strong - my example, not in the game).
Stamina - All moves drain some stamina and if he uses it up he can't fight any more. Dodges uses a lot more than other moves and the player must be strategic to avoid loosing all the stamina. It may be smarter to lose a little health and end the fight quickly than to dodge all the enemy's attacks and fall on your face from exhaustion. A light weapon may be more suited than a heavy axe. The axe deals more damage but is slower and uses more stamina. A rapier is light and nimble, but causes less damage.


Well.. I hope someone found this interesting. Personally I like a combination of Player Skill and Character Skill, and I hope more games will have this combination.

BTW: Nuget5555, in your OP you wrote "Benefits 1.No saving of progression is required. Getting good at a game is like learning to ride a bike, so if you leave and come back 6 months later you can start where you left off because you will still be just as good.". My response to that is "Yeah, right". It will come back to you faster, but you won't be as good when you haven't played in 6 months. :-)

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Wysardry    244
Quote:
Original post by thedevdan
Very true. But tell me, why does that matter if people have a basic understanding of what they are doing in a game? What if, in an action game...

My points were directed solely at role-playing games. Other genres have a different balance of skills and gameplay as the relationship between the player and the game character is different.

Quote:
You seem to think that having player skill invovled means that you can't have abilties that you learn, weapons you unlock, etc. You can make it that the more a player uses a sword, the more potential damage they can do with it. Same with spells. That can easily co-exist with having reflexes/etc. involved (look at Zelda)!

You seem to think that character skills must be based on player dexterity and/or reflexes. By your logic, someone with arthritis or RSI shouldn't be able to advance very far into any game, even if the character has no such restraints.

Most pencil and paper RPG players don't wave their arms around or make animated gestures every time their character uses a skill, so why force it upon CRPG players? If they wanted the success of their character's actions to be that dependent on their own hand movements they'd have chosen an FPS or similar.

Zelda isn't an RPG (it's a hybrid), so the gameplay won't be the same.

Quote:
You can think a game is more fun if they have little control over what actually happens, but that doesn't mean that the reason that it would be more fun would be because the player doesn't know how do what the character in the game is doing in real life, as I explained.

I'm not saying the player shouldn't have control over the intended action, just that the character's abilities would decide the exact method or application.

Imagine if CRPGs gave messages like this:-

"You are unsuccessful in your attempt to pick the lock as you did not hit the left mouse button within the alloted time."

"You were unable to reduce the price of the gauntlets by haggling with the store owner as you did not wiggle your joystick quickly enough."

"Your healing spell failed because you did not press the correct combination of keys."

As for whether CRPG players want more control and/or find it fun, consider this example:-

In Morrowind, you have the option of choosing an attack method (chop, slash or thrust) by moving your mouse in different ways. There is also an option marked "automatically use best attack method" (for weapon used). Care to guess whether those who choose the manual method are a minority or the majority? [smile]

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rKallmeyer    396
Quote:
In Morrowind, you have the option of choosing an attack method (chop, slash or thrust) by moving your mouse in different ways. There is also an option marked "automatically use best attack method" (for weapon used). Care to guess whether those who choose the manual method are a minority or the majority?

bah! that was a bad example. The option in Morrowind is silly because you have nothing to gain by doing it manually. Heres a better example: In Final Fantasy VIII you have the option to press the right trigger on the controller at a specific time during an otherwise completely computer-controlled attack. Or you have the option to let the computer do it for you. If you let the computer do it, the timing will be random meaning that the resulting attack will range from bad to perfect. However if the player takes control and learns it for themselves, they consistently attack with good or perfect attacks. Now...care to guess whether those who choose the manual method are a minority or majority? [wink]

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thedevdan    210
Quote:

My points were directed solely at role-playing games. Other genres have a different balance of skills and gameplay as the relationship between the player and the game character is different.


You need to stop thinking of set-in-stone genres, and start thinking of what is fun and innovative. Plus, that isn't the reason that you gave (you said it was because people can't cast spells in real life).

Quote:
You seem to think that character skills must be based on player dexterity and/or reflexes. By your logic, someone with arthritis or RSI shouldn't be able to advance very far into any game, even if the character has no such restraints.

Most pencil and paper RPG players don't wave their arms around or make animated gestures every time their character uses a skill, so why force it upon CRPG players? If they wanted the success of their character's actions to be that dependent on their own hand movements they'd have chosen an FPS or similar.


No, you are taking what I am saying completely the wrong way. As I said, games can be fun if they are not action-oriented, but they are not not action oriented (read that twice, two 'not's in a row) because of what happens in the game is impossible in real life. It's because some people simply like games like that.

Quote:
Imagine if CRPGs gave messages like this:-

"You are unsuccessful in your attempt to pick the lock as you did not hit the left mouse button within the alloted time."

"You were unable to reduce the price of the gauntlets by haggling with the store owner as you did not wiggle your joystick quickly enough."

"Your healing spell failed because you did not press the correct combination of keys."

As for whether CRPG players want more control and/or find it fun, consider this example:-


Imagine this:

"Your attack missed because of a random value."

"You were killed because you did not have enough hit-points which are gained by slashing monsters."

"Your attack power just jumped because you got the right amount of experience-points."

"You cannot attack the monster right now, it is not your turn."

Or, enough with the messages, how the heck does clicking on an button in the user interface to cast a spell make any sense? You say, let's say, hitting 'a' + 'b' makes no sense to cast a spell, but how does clicking on a "spell" button make sense (and you can only attack while it is your turn, so you can only press it then)!? You can't say my method is bad because it isn't realistic; yours makes even less sense.



By the way; nice discussion, if you take what I am saying as rude: don't. It's just my style.

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krez    443
what it boils down to is different people like different types of games. some people like to let the computer handle all the stat management and skill rolls, so they can have their character do things based on the skills they built up. others like to jump into the action and use their reflexes to overcome challenges.

neither is inherently better, they're just different. whichever you choose to use in your game will keep some people from one camp or another to not want to play it.

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Wysardry    244
Quote:
Original post by thedevdan
You need to stop thinking of set-in-stone genres, and start thinking of what is fun and innovative. Plus, that isn't the reason that you gave (you said it was because people can't cast spells in real life).

It would be almost impossible to respond to any but the most generalised game design question with an answer that applied equally to every game genre. What would be fun and innovative to me these days would be a CRPG where the developers concentrated more on the underlying game than they did on the fancy graphics, but that's a little beside the point. [wink]

Classifying games into genres helps gamers know what type of game they are about to buy/download/play. If they enjoyed playing half a dozen CRPGs in the past, chances are better than average that they would enjoy playing another. If a game was described as a CRPG on the box and turned out to be a Tetris clone when they installed it, they'd likely be annoyed, even if they happened to like Tetris too.

I gave several reasons why I feel that CRPGs should avoid depending on player skills, but I can expand on that one aspect if you wish.

There are a number of actions which correspond to skills that cannot be easily reproduced using conventional input devices. For example, hammering in a nail without bending it, hitting your thumb or splitting the wood.

If there is no real world equivalent, it is even harder to provide realistic control over it, because there's the added complication of the player not knowing what actions are involved.

In a game where only a few skills are used, a certain amount of abstraction can be introduced if the actions require similar movements to those which can be made with a mouse, joystick or keyboard. In a CRPG, there may be 50 or more distinct and separate skills available, many of which do not have real world equivalents.

Quote:
No, you are taking what I am saying completely the wrong way. As I said, games can be fun if they are not action-oriented, but they are not not action oriented (read that twice, two 'not's in a row) because of what happens in the game is impossible in real life. It's because some people simply like games like that.

I didn't say that all non-action games are made that way because the actions depicted are impossible in real life. I merely stated that one of the reasons that CRPGs are not action-orientated is because it would be difficult for the player to understand what the required actions would be.

Quote:
Imagine this:

"Your attack missed because of a random value."

"You were killed because you did not have enough hit-points which are gained by slashing monsters."

"Your attack power just jumped because you got the right amount of experience-points."

"You cannot attack the monster right now, it is not your turn."

Alternatives to those would be:-

"You missed through bad luck and/or quantum mechanics."

"You were killed because you're too inexperienced and weak, due to lack of experience/training and exercise."

"The number representing your attack power just jumped because humans find it easier to understand integer measurements and appreciate obvious rewards more than subtle ones."

"You cannot attack the monster right now because it takes a certain amount of time for you to regain your balance after swinging a weapon. The enemy knows this and is about to attack you, so it would be a good idea to try to block rather than attack again." [smile]

Quote:
Or, enough with the messages, how the heck does clicking on an button in the user interface to cast a spell make any sense? You say, let's say, hitting 'a' + 'b' makes no sense to cast a spell, but how does clicking on a "spell" button make sense (and you can only attack while it is your turn, so you can only press it then)!? You can't say my method is bad because it isn't realistic; yours makes even less sense.

It makes more sense because the player takes on the decision making or strategy aspects of the character. In other words, the player provides the character's higher brain functions.

When you go to catch a ball, do you consciously trigger all the neurons between your brain and your fingertips? No, you just tell your unconscious mind that's what you want to do and the correct messages are relayed by your autonomic nervous system.

Making the act of issuing orders more complex by requiring multiple keypresses, a particular mouse movement pattern or it to be done within a restrictive time frame does not make it any more like real life.

Besides anything else, in most CRPGs time passes at least 5 times faster than it does in our world, so any time restrictions actually require the player to be 5 times quicker than they would be if they really were in that situation.

So, for a player to sustain a rate of fire of 12 arrows per minute (as a skilled bowman would), they would need to hit a key or button 60 times or more in the same length of time. Now if they're independantly controlling a party of 4 characters with bows, they'd need to increase that rate to 240.

If they want each character to do something different, they're up the proverbial creek.

Hardly realistic, fair or fun, is it? [smile]

Having a turn based option evens the odds. The computer could potentially send millions of instructions every second to the characters it controls, but if everyone has to "take their turn" based on character speed, movement, last action taken etc. the human player has a better chance of using his/her strategy and decision making skills effectively.

It also reduces the effects of restricted first person viewpoints. The average human has a field of view of 120 degrees or more, but most games only show about 90 degrees due to the limitations of the screen. This causes there to be more "blind spots" than in real life.

If the player is allowed to pan the display or zoom out slightly between combat turns, that is less of a problem.

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By the way; nice discussion, if you take what I am saying as rude: don't. It's just my style.

I agree. I often get more out of discussions with those who have an opposing viewpoint than those I agree with as they help me gain insight as to the reasons behind them thinking or feeling that way.

I've been on the 'net for 7 or 8 years now, and I would have to say that you need to advance your "rudeness" skill by at least 35% before I'd consider you to be of average rudeness for a forum member with an opposing view. [wink]

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thedevdan    210
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Classifying games into genres helps gamers know what type of game they are about to buy/download/play. If they enjoyed playing half a dozen CRPGs in the past, chances are better than average that they would enjoy playing another. If a game was described as a CRPG on the box and turned out to be a Tetris clone when they installed it, they'd likely be annoyed, even if they happened to like Tetris too.


Yes, it helps consumers find games that they like and yes, if they like one CRPG they wil probably like another. However, my point was that when designing a game, you shouldn't say, "well, this would be fun, but it doesn't fit in with what is expected of x genre, so we better not add it". That kills creativity and innovation.
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I gave several reasons why I feel that CRPGs should avoid depending on player skills, but I can expand on that one aspect if you wish.

There are a number of actions which correspond to skills that cannot be easily reproduced using conventional input devices. For example, hammering in a nail without bending it, hitting your thumb or splitting the wood.

If there is no real world equivalent, it is even harder to provide realistic control over it, because there's the added complication of the player not knowing what actions are involved.

In a game where only a few skills are used, a certain amount of abstraction can be introduced if the actions require similar movements to those which can be made with a mouse, joystick or keyboard. In a CRPG, there may be 50 or more distinct and separate skills available, many of which do not have real world equivalents.


But why does it matter? Take this: in a FPS, you hit a button to jump. Hitting a button does not correspond to the actual action of jumping. And it doesn't need to. How you control in-game actions does not have to be accurate to the real world (why would it?), but it does have to be intuitive (meaning that once you have learned the controls, they should feel natural). A single button press for a jump is intuitive, as is a single button for a sword slash or a combination of the two for a jump-slash. None of those are accurate, but all of them are intuitive. And that isn't a bad thing.

If you have 50 or more distinct ablities (it is important to define "destinct"... I have yet to see a game that truly has that many distinct abilities), it does get harder (especially with a controller) to pull it off in real-time. But it isn't impossible. You could make "families" of abilities (fire-magic, water-magic, light-physical, strong-phyiscal, etc), and put each ability in an appropriate family. Then, you could assign button presses for each ability in a family, and just cycle through the families with one of the control sticks. You could even let the user create the families. It is unlikely that more than 2 or 3 familes would be used often, so it really wouldn't be much of a problem. That is only one solution. Games like Metriod Prime have others. A common one is to assign by menu abililties, which are then used in real time.

However, since that is less intuitive, most real time games aren't set up around that sort of an ability system. They'll have less abilities (and/or make it so you rarely need to use many at a time, like Zelda).

However, if you are trying to cater to an audience that likes turn based games with lots of abilities, then obviously you should make just that. Just realize that's the reason you are doing so, and not because it impossible otherwise.
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I didn't say that all non-action games are made that way because the actions depicted are impossible in real life. I merely stated that one of the reasons that CRPGs are not action-orientated is because it would be difficult for the player to understand what the required actions would be.


As said, they don't have to be accurate to real life, but make sure they are feel intuitive once you know them.
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Alternatives to those would be:-

"You missed through bad luck and/or quantum mechanics."

"You were killed because you're too inexperienced and weak, due to lack of experience/training and exercise."

"The number representing your attack power just jumped because humans find it easier to understand integer measurements and appreciate obvious rewards more than subtle ones."

"You cannot attack the monster right now because it takes a certain amount of time for you to regain your balance after swinging a weapon. The enemy knows this and is about to attack you, so it would be a good idea to try to block rather than attack again."


That is just cheap. [wink] I gave the one's I did because you gave really lame examples, too. But that last one you gave is really pushing it. Why should recovering from being attacked by a weapon take longer than attacking with it? [smile]
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It makes more sense because the player takes on the decision making or strategy aspects of the character. In other words, the player provides the character's higher brain functions.

When you go to catch a ball, do you consciously trigger all the neurons between your brain and your fingertips? No, you just tell your unconscious mind that's what you want to do and the correct messages are relayed by your autonomic nervous system.


Is hitting a button on the controller to initiate a sword-slash any different that hitting a button on a user interface to iniate a sword slash? Only in that one is real time, and one isn't.
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Making the act of issuing orders more complex by requiring multiple keypresses, a particular mouse movement pattern or it to be done within a restrictive time frame does not make it any more like real life.


No, but it doesn't have to. If it makes the game-experience more fun, than that is all that matters. If it makes it less fun, don't do it.
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Besides anything else, in most CRPGs time passes at least 5 times faster than it does in our world, so any time restrictions actually require the player to be 5 times quicker than they would be if they really were in that situation.

So, for a player to sustain a rate of fire of 12 arrows per minute (as a skilled bowman would), they would need to hit a key or button 60 times or more in the same length of time. Now if they're independantly controlling a party of 4 characters with bows, they'd need to increase that rate to 240.

If they want each character to do something different, they're up the proverbial creek.

Hardly realistic, fair or fun, is it?


Most CRPGs have walking in towns in real time. When you walk, do your feet move 5 times as fast? No. Just because days are shorter doesn't mean you have to move any faster.

Of course, I could have just said "but having time go that fast isn't realistic in the first place!" [grin]

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Having a turn based option evens the odds. The computer could potentially send millions of instructions every second to the characters it controls, but if everyone has to "take their turn" based on character speed, movement, last action taken etc. the human player has a better chance of using his/her strategy and decision making skills effectively.


Yes, you could make smarter actions. But having it real-time makes it so you have to think fast, which isn't inherintly worse that having to think well. I like the latter in games, you prefer the former. Note how again I could have used the realistic card.

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It also reduces the effects of restricted first person viewpoints. The average human has a field of view of 120 degrees or more, but most games only show about 90 degrees due to the limitations of the screen. This causes there to be more "blind spots" than in real life.

If the player is allowed to pan the display or zoom out slightly between combat turns, that is less of a problem.


Having a smaller FOV just means that you should make sure that the battles proportionally easier, make the FOV user changable, or add a third person viewpoint. First person shooters have dealt with this just fine.


Can we agree that it all comes down to making a game that is fun? It doesn't matter whether it is realistic, but as long as the player has a good time, you have done your job.

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Original post by lonesock
Other than better gadgets, and auto-aiming (which I really don't like, personally), I can't think of any mechanisims for doing character skills in FPS games. Any suggestions?


One word: Daikatana!

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Wysardry    244
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Original post by thedevdan
Yes, it helps consumers find games that they like and yes, if they like one CRPG they wil probably like another. However, my point was that when designing a game, you shouldn't say, "well, this would be fun, but it doesn't fit in with what is expected of x genre, so we better not add it". That kills creativity and innovation.

No, developers don't have to stick to a rigid definition of a genre, but if they do add features from other game types they should make that clear in the game description. CRPG players often have a different idea of what is fun than FPS players, and that can be a problem if a hybrid is created without making that clear.

If you were creating a CRPG/FPS hybrid, then it is fairly obvious that the skill control method would contain aspects from both genres.

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But why does it matter? Take this: in a FPS, you hit a button to jump. Hitting a button does not correspond to the actual action of jumping. And it doesn't need to. How you control in-game actions does not have to be accurate to the real world (why would it?), but it does have to be intuitive (meaning that once you have learned the controls, they should feel natural). A single button press for a jump is intuitive, as is a single button for a sword slash or a combination of the two for a jump-slash. None of those are accurate, but all of them are intuitive. And that isn't a bad thing.

Pressing a key is logically related to the act of pushing a button or key. The action of moving your finger/thumb up and down causes the character to jump up and down. This applies to most movement control schemes. [smile]

Jumping is a bad example though, because it is a very simple action that almost everyone understands as they can do it in real life. Pressing a key to jump also does not give you the control you seemed to be asking for. You're either jumping or not jumping.

I suppose you could set the power of the jump by holding the key down longer and then having the character jump when you release it, but that seems more than a little slow and clumsy to me.

The sword fighting example probably illustrates the differences better. Without moving, there are 3 basic attack methods for a sword: chop, slash and thrust. In an action game you might have 3 separate keys, or 3 different mouse movements that activate them. In a CRPG, one key or button would do the trick, as the character could decide the best attack to use.

Aiming the weapon is also more of an issue in an action game, as hits and misses are more dependant on the player's actions rather than the abilities of the character.

If the combat is in real time, timing becomes an issue.

In summary, in an action game sword fighting might require the player to aim carefully, then implement a specific attack at the right moment. In a turn based CRPG, the player may only need to press a single attack key when it's their turn.

This is fine if sword fighting is the only skill you have to worry about, but giving the same amount of control for dozens of skills would make it more complex than most flight simulators.

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If you have 50 or more distinct ablities (it is important to define "destinct"... I have yet to see a game that truly has that many distinct abilities), it does get harder (especially with a controller) to pull it off in real-time. But it isn't impossible. You could make "families" of abilities (fire-magic, water-magic, light-physical, strong-phyiscal, etc), and put each ability in an appropriate family. Then, you could assign button presses for each ability in a family, and just cycle through the families with one of the control sticks. You could even let the user create the families. It is unlikely that more than 2 or 3 familes would be used often, so it really wouldn't be much of a problem. That is only one solution. Games like Metriod Prime have others. A common one is to assign by menu abililties, which are then used in real time.

However, since that is less intuitive, most real time games aren't set up around that sort of an ability system. They'll have less abilities (and/or make it so you rarely need to use many at a time, like Zelda).

However, if you are trying to cater to an audience that likes turn based games with lots of abilities, then obviously you should make just that. Just realize that's the reason you are doing so, and not because it impossible otherwise.

Daggerfall has approximately 50 distinct skills available. By distinct I mean that they are advanced independantly of each other through different actions, rather than their use being controlled directly (some are used automatically in specific situations, such as swimming).

Most real time CRPGs allow you to set a limited number of hot keys for spells and the like, but changing your weapon usually requires bringing up the inventory screen and equipping it.

The method still doesn't shift the skill from being character based to player based though, as it only allows you to decide what to do and when to do it, not how to do it.

Adding additional control over spell casting (for example) so that the player could decide what incantations to say, what hand gestures to make etc. so they could control the size and power of a fireball would do that, but it would add to the complexity and make real time combat even more difficult.

Imagine adding the same amount of flexibility as discussed in the sword fighting example to every usable skill.

Would it be possible? Yes, probably, with enough effort. But does that mean it should be done, or that a large number of people would enjoy it? Okay, so there are a number of complex flight simulators produced every year, but the most complicated ones with the highest level of control tend not to include combat options, as the player already has enough to worry about.

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That is just cheap. [wink] I gave the one's I did because you gave really lame examples, too. But that last one you gave is really pushing it. Why should recovering from being attacked by a weapon take longer than attacking with it? [smile]

Recovering from being attacked doesn't necessarily take longer than attacking with one. The point is that every action and reaction takes a certain length of time, because you're trying to represent "slices" of real time.

For example, raising a two-handed sword might take 5 seconds, swinging at an opponent might take another 5, regaining your balance and getting ready to parry/block might take another 5 seconds. If "turns" are 5 seconds long, you can only do one of those things per turn, after which your opponent(s) and/or other members of your party take their turns. When everyone has taken their turn(s), a new "round" is started.

Some characters are allowed to take more than one turn per round, based on speed, agility, what they're last action was etc. Some actions also take more than one turn to complete.

The definition of what constitutes a turn and how long a particular action takes varies according to which rules system you're using, but that's the basic concept behind most of them.

Unless you've read a dungeon master's guide, most of it isn't very intuitive, but similar systems have been in use for about 20 years, so most of the wrinkles have been ironed out. There is usually a good reason behind every rule in a role-playing game, even if it isn't always obvious to the players.

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Is hitting a button on the controller to initiate a sword-slash any different that hitting a button on a user interface to iniate a sword slash? Only in that one is real time, and one isn't.

CRPGs don't have to be turn based. I was merely saying that using a single command to initiate a sword attack is simpler and easier than controlling the particular method of attack used and directing the aim specifically. i.e. choosing "attack" rather than "chop", "slash" or "thrust" with the crosshairs in a particular location.

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Most CRPGs have walking in towns in real time. When you walk, do your feet move 5 times as fast? No. Just because days are shorter doesn't mean you have to move any faster.

Of course, I could have just said "but having time go that fast isn't realistic in the first place!" [grin]

Actually, most 3D games scale movement so that it is slightly faster than the real time equivalent. If you create a 3D world where the relative scale of all the objects is 100% accurate and set time to pass as it does in our world, the movement speed seems too slow.

If movement rate wasn't increased along with the passage of time in a gaming environment, then the characters would take far too long to get anywhere.

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Yes, you could make smarter actions. But having it real-time makes it so you have to think fast, which isn't inherintly worse that having to think well. I like the latter in games, you prefer the former. Note how again I could have used the realistic card.

The realistic card wouldn't have worked, as game mechanics limit the amount of realism that can be included.

Even if time passes at the same rate in the game world as it does in ours, the player is still at a disadvantage compared to if (s)he were really in that situation. Unless you have a very large monitor and sit with your face 6 inches away from it, your field of view is much more restricted and/or objects are smaller.

Initiating any action takes longer than normal, as if you were really there you would be less of a delay between your brain issuing the command and your body carrying it out. Even if your finger is already on the right key/button, there's still an additional delay after you've completed the action of pressing it and the game character starting the associated action on the screen.

I really can't see why you would want to add the additional complexity of having finer control of every skill in a real-time environment. I don't dislike real-time action games, but for me part of their appeal is that they are simple. Quick thinking and fast actions are easier if there are fewer available options.

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Having a smaller FOV just means that you should make sure that the battles proportionally easier, make the FOV user changable, or add a third person viewpoint. First person shooters have dealt with this just fine.

Turn based mode is a way of making battles proportionately easier. [wink]

Changing the FOV wouldn't solve the problem, as the player's own FOV is a factor. The reason 90 degrees or so is usually chosen is that is how much of the player's FOV the monitor screen normally occupies when viewed from a comfortable distance. If you try showing a 120 degree FOV, the view is either distorted or too small (or both).

Perhaps this will be solved if/when widescreen monitors become widely available.

In most games I've seen, switching to third person view doesn't help much as the character is standing in the way.

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Can we agree that it all comes down to making a game that is fun? It doesn't matter whether it is realistic, but as long as the player has a good time, you have done your job.

Yes, but fun is relative. [smile]

I only mentioned realism for the purpose of comparison. Most people expect games to be easier than real life situations, otherwise they may as well go off somewhere and learn how to do it for real.

Generally, this means simplifying situations or certain aspects, not making them harder or more complex.

If you blend a CRPG with an FPS, you have to reach some sort of compromise between the two different genres. A CRPG is mostly about strategy, decision making and/or using your cognitive skills at a reasonably leisurely pace (overall). An FPS is about quick thinking and fast action. Having to think fast and hard to make quick decisions about complex situations and carry out an appropriate action from a wide range of options whilst under almost constant pressure would have limited appeal.

Slowing down the pace of the FPS aspects and reducing the complexity of the CRPG elements would be the way to go.

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thedevdan    210
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The sword fighting example probably illustrates the differences better. Without moving, there are 3 basic attack methods for a sword: chop, slash and thrust. In an action game you might have 3 separate keys, or 3 different mouse movements that activate them. In a CRPG, one key or button would do the trick, as the character could decide the best attack to use.

Aiming the weapon is also more of an issue in an action game, as hits and misses are more dependant on the player's actions rather than the abilities of the character.

If the combat is in real time, timing becomes an issue.

In summary, in an action game sword fighting might require the player to aim carefully, then implement a specific attack at the right moment. In a turn based CRPG, the player may only need to press a single attack key when it's their turn.

This is fine if sword fighting is the only skill you have to worry about, but giving the same amount of control for dozens of skills would make it more complex than most flight simulators.


Action games generally have a more action-oriented approach, hence the name. Therefor, there might not be 3 different ways to use each item, just one.

And even if there were 3 ways, it wouldn't make it as complex as a flight sim. Just assign keys for the different ways to use each item. For example, 'j', 'k', and 'l' can be the three ways to use each item, and whether you are using a sword, magic attack, or spear, it would have the same consistent interface.

Your arguement against that has been that the skills needed to use a sword shouldn't be the same skills needed to use a fireball. Now, that doesn't need to be true for a game, but even if you chose to have so, you could still have action involved. You could still have, for example, growing stats for each item: the more you use a certain sword, the more its stats go up, and the more damage you inflict with it.

IF ANYTHING, READ THIS: Again, it comes down to what your target audience wants. If your target audience wants a turn based game, you can give it them. If they don't want one, don't give it to them. but realism has very little involved. Both ways, real-time and turn based, don't really make sense (controlling all of your possible actions in real-time with a 10 button controller, versus having time to think when you really wouln't (in a sword fight).


P.S.

For the sword arguement I gave last post, here is what I meant:

You hit someone with a broad sword, inflict damage on them, yet they are able to attack you back before you can attack them again.


For the walking arguement I gave last post, here is what I meant:

If whole game is 5x faster, then to truly be consistent (which isn't important) you need to have all of the animations faster, too.

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Wysardry    244
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Original post by thedevdan
Action games generally have a more action-oriented approach, hence the name. Therefor, there might not be 3 different ways to use each item, just one.

If there is only one way to control an item that can be used in multiple ways, then the game cannot be player skill based. Whether the usage is decided by the computer/character or the actions are simplified into one action, the player is still not using the skills (s)he would in reality.

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And even if there were 3 ways, it wouldn't make it as complex as a flight sim. Just assign keys for the different ways to use each item. For example, 'j', 'k', and 'l' can be the three ways to use each item, and whether you are using a sword, magic attack, or spear, it would have the same consistent interface.

Even if the same 3 keys were used for all skills, you'd need some way of controlling which skill you are about to use (which one they apply to).

Even with as little as 20 available skills, that would make it much more difficult to learn and use the controls.

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Your arguement against that has been that the skills needed to use a sword shouldn't be the same skills needed to use a fireball. Now, that doesn't need to be true for a game, but even if you chose to have so, you could still have action involved.

If all the character skills are based upon 2 or 3 player skills, then the character's abilities would increase too rapidly and too evenly.

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You could still have, for example, growing stats for each item: the more you use a certain sword, the more its stats go up, and the more damage you inflict with it.

That would make the skills character based. [smile]

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IF ANYTHING, READ THIS: Again, it comes down to what your target audience wants. If your target audience wants a turn based game, you can give it them. If they don't want one, don't give it to them. but realism has very little involved. Both ways, real-time and turn based, don't really make sense (controlling all of your possible actions in real-time with a 10 button controller, versus having time to think when you really wouln't (in a sword fight).

Actually, many CRPGs allow you to switch between real-time and turn-based modes whenever you wish.

In terms of realism, some type of "slightly-slower-than-real-time" feature would be better, to counteract the delays inherent in the control system. However, it would be annoying outside of combat situations.

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You hit someone with a broad sword, inflict damage on them, yet they are able to attack you back before you can attack them again.

Yes, most systems are designed to work that way, unless a critical strike or some type of stun restriction is in effect. Combat rules have to apply equally to both sides. If an enemy hit you, and kept on hitting you, without you being able to retaliate until (s)he missed, how fair or realistic would that be?

Considering that people don't (usually) get seriously hurt in fencing, the closest everyday example I can think of off the top of my head is boxing. The person who gets the first punch in doesn't automatically win the round merely by continuing to hit his opponent, as the act itself lowers his guard slightly, leaving an opening for retaliation.

You also have to take into consideration that in many turn-based systems, each turn is supposed to be happening at the same moment in time, or staggered at very small intervals (certainly smaller than it takes to complete an action).

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If whole game is 5x faster, then to truly be consistent (which isn't important) you need to have all of the animations faster, too.

Many of them do, but as mentioned before, the reduced scale and the narrow FOV make it less noticeable.

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