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Turn based combat

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I'm curious to know how many RPG players prefer turn based combat over real-time combat? There are so many different flavors to choose from, it will have to be a general preference. For example, the turn based combat in old school console RPGs (which I love to death) seemed rather dry, boring, and uninteractive to me. Combat gets old really fast, even with pretty spectacles like the newest Final Fantasy's. Where games like Fallout and X-Com:UFO have found ways to keep it totally interactive, and a complete blast, in my opinion. With that said, I'm the player that grew up playing Super Street Fighter II Turbo. I really love real-time combat. Games like Secret of Mana, Shadowrun, and Morrowind touch on it, but leave a lot to be desired. The combat is usually very basic and there's just not enough to it to make it interesting to me. Finally, are there any interesting ideas for turning a real-time combat system into a turn based system as an option? X-Com did this for Apocalypse. But their system worked really well in both designs. How would one transform a generic Street Fighter or Tekken engine into a fun turn based workup? I don't want to alienate all of the players out there that aren't like me (probably all of them!). But at the same time, I don't want to make fighting easier in the turn based version, just less intense and less demanding for those who are into sitting back and relaxing. Any opinions?

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I've never plyed Fallout or X-Com:UFO but from my experience, in general I find turn-based combat rather boring. Why? Because they have a much more limited interaction with the user than a real-time battle system. In turn-based combat you select your commands, then you wait and watch. I'm playing Skies of Arcadia Legends right now and the battles are so boring (and take so long for a single round to complete) that once I enter my commands, I'll either lay down, or go get something to drink, or check my e-mail, etc. and then come back to it. It's THAT boring (although boss battles are a little more exciting).


The one advantage that turn-based combat has over real-time is that there is a more strategic element to it. You can't adopt to the situation on-the-fly, so you have to choose your actions carefully and anticipate the enemy's move (very much less chess, or go). However in SoAL, each foe usually has a maximum of 4 different actions they take and it's much too easy to anticipate so there's really not that much strategy at all. Although I will say that I do find that game very enjoyable at some parts, but rarely are those parts the battles. [sad]

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That game that immediately pops into my head is Heroes of Might and Magic, and it works well (a classic style and one of the greatest strategy games ever made).

The key selling point of turn-based combat is that it ties the player's success entirely to a variety of compelling (and well-formulated) strategic options -- and not physical reaction time.

The game becomes purely intellectual -- like chess or checkers -- and less about quickness. You can think about the best choice, get up, get a soda, take about your decision with the friend you are playing with, etc.

For strategy gamers, I think turn-based decision-making is still very addictive and interesting -- without the frustration that real-time games can represent.

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I long envisioned a turn-based game in which your character's actions are played out in real-time, but the commands are turn-based. A sort of hybrid between Street Fighter and Final Fantasy. I send my Zangief over to attack your Chun Li, and instead of a punch animation, a dice roll and a little number appearing, they have an AI-governed 5-second bout. Whatever damage is done is done, and they wait for the next player decision.

What I eventually realized is that this system wastes a lot of code and some gameplay time getting to the same result that the dice roll produces. I still sort of want to see such a game, but for different reasons, most of them having to do with a casual interest in making an AI combat system that applies principles of combat.

There's a stark economy of interactivity versus character authenticity. More twitch makes your character less important.

That said, Fallout 2 (or was it Fallout Tactics?) let you play the turn-based system in real-time. It was very tough, and for major fights you usually wanted to get more tactical, but it streamlined the little raider and radscorpion fights so you didn't have to watch seven rats take individual turns while you burned them to death.

Heroes of Might & Magic also had a system whereby minor battles could be glossed over, with the computer quickly tabulating the fight and your casualties without actually showing any of it to you. It was great for mopping up tiny pockets of resistance and neutralizing enemy scouts, but every once in a while you'd accidentally go tactics-free against a major foe and get your butt handed to you.

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Original post by Roots
I've never plyed Fallout or X-Com:UFO but from my experience, in general I find turn-based combat rather boring. Why? Because they have a much more limited interaction with the user than a real-time battle system.

Ahhh! You've never played any X-Com or Fallout releases at all? You could probably buy both together for less than $10. Perhaps you've played Final Fantasy Tactics or the Shining Force series? The combat is similar in those, but I prefer the bloody mess and realism of Fallout and X-Com. The depth was so amazing in both of these games. For example, it was possible to knock someone unconscious, arm a remote explosive, stick it in their pocket, then run away and let them wake up and rejoin their group. You can guess what happens next.

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In turn-based combat you select your commands, then you wait and watch. I'm playing Skies of Arcadia Legends right now and the battles are so boring

I feel the same way about most turn based systems. I love the character systems and stories of all of the old Final Fantasy series and other console RPGs, but I cannot for the life of me sit through the battles. Click attack, magic, item, attack, attack, attack, item, attack. In Fallout, you could literally choose to shoot people in the eyes with a shotgun. Messy, but still a lot of depth in the decision making.

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Original post by The Frugal Gourmet
The key selling point of turn-based combat is that it ties the player's success entirely to a variety of compelling (and well-formulated) strategic options -- and not physical reaction time.

I didn't post to defend it, but real-time combat doesn't lack strategy. There's so much more to fighting games than knowing the moves of your character and pushing the buttons faster. It's mostly about anticipating your opponent. Trying to understand what his goal is, where he plans to attack, what strategy he seems to be using the most, and finding a way to smash it. The biggest advantage you can achieve while trying to fight top-notch players is not sticking to your guns. You have to mix your methods up and stay very unpredictable. A lot harder than it sounds. Of course most of this doesn't apply to AI characters, which can usually become predictable rather quickly. Unfortunately, my game will only have AI opponents. But you'll have to fight several at once.

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For strategy gamers, I think turn-based decision-making is still very addictive and interesting -- without the frustration that real-time games can represent.

For real-time gamers, it is as well. That's why I would like to incorperate it some how into my current system. I'm just not sure how possible that is.

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Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
I long envisioned a turn-based game in which your character's actions are played out in real-time, but the commands are turn-based.

Having both real-time and the strategic version seems pretty complicated to me. I mean running jump twirl spin kicks in a turn based environnement? I have no idea if it would work or not. I don't think the traditional method of using time units will work. But I'm not sure what other options may exist. How can I take something that requires you to be quick on your feet, slow it down, and expect it to be just as difficult? Can I make it more intellectual?

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There's a stark economy of interactivity versus character authenticity. More twitch makes your character less important.

Well, your character's abilities are directly tied to what options you have available to use in combat, as well as attributes like toughness and speed. So the characters are still pretty important. I don't feel that the characters in Morrowind are less important than the characters in Eye of the Beholder (old game, I know). It just gives you more direct control.

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That said, Fallout 2 (or was it Fallout Tactics?) let you play the turn-based system in real-time. It was very tough, and for major fights you usually wanted to get more tactical, but it streamlined the little raider and radscorpion fights so you didn't have to watch seven rats take individual turns while you burned them to death.

It was Tactics. And yes, that's what I want to acheive, but in the opposite direction. X-Com: Apocalypse and Fallout Tactics presented an option to change turn based battles into real-time battles. Unfortunately, I'm trying to do the opposite. You will only have control of one character, though. So your attention will be less scattered than most turn based battles.

I appreciate the feedback.

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I've recently played a little bit of Mount&Blade. It's a small indie RPG game in development with realtime combat, but this time the combat has been implemented very well in my opinion. It's not just hitting your enemy repeatedly with the biggest sword you can find anymore. You actually have to watch your opponent, block his attacks and try to get your attacks trough. Nicely animated characters(for an indie game, developed mostly by 2 persons) and sometimes huge battles make it really fun. The game is still in development and besides combat there isn't much to play with yet, but it's still worth checking out the demo. While I usually prefer turnbased combat because of the strategy element and all, I have to say that when implemented well, realtime combat seems superior to me, but I would still choose turnbased over morrowind-style combat anyday.

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FFX-2 actually has a real time turn based combat system. You can choose to whether keep the global timer runner while you give orders to your character or to have it stop. If you keep it going, its vicious and fast pace as you are required to make near split second choices. If you think too long, you may only get off one attack for every 3 or 4 your opponent pulls. It was probably the fastest pace turn based combat i've ever played. Its a cool system, just very taxing on the player's concentration.

Other combat systems in RPGs to note are in Star Ocean and Tales of Symphonia. Star Ocean 2 had that kind of 3D real time combat thing, which was pretty cool. Tales of Symphonia had an interesting combo system that really made you think on your toes.

Skies of Arcadia, as someone mentioned before has a pure turn-based system, but what's interesting about it is the fact that your characters and opponents will move around the field, making planning area based attacks somewhat challenging as your opponents may have moved out of range by the time its your character's turn.

There are other ways to spice up pure turn based combat systems, like in Legend of Dragoon on PSX. Its a really good game, probably one of the last great ones on PSX, I think. The turn based combat system added a timing based combo system, where you can pull off multi-hit combos to deal more damage if you hit a specific button at the right time, multiple times based on an on screen indicator. It made combat slightly more interesting, as just leaving it alone would not be to your advantage.

In general, probably the best way to soup up a turn based combat system is probably to either add more timing based features or strategic and tactical features that are real-time in nature.

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The RPG-Fighter is exactly the kind of game I'm working on now. We're building the engine to test out how to balance this kind of hybrid combat (nothing testable yet) and I plan to post the battle system doc here of the basic ideas within the next week for critique.

The idea of this combination has a lot of merit to it. For one thing, it spices up a genre which often relies heavily on stale gameplay. RPGs have so much to offer in terms of story, character, and world immersion, I think that falling back on turn-based systems 95% of the time is a terrible shame. This is a stereotype and generalization, of course, as a good number of games try to toss in new elements to the system, but the core concept of 'select x from list' doesn't complement such a dramatic and otherwise interesting genre. It would also help to add to the role playing element if a player had more real-time control of their character, where instead of ordering banal and generic commands at an avatar you would be controlling the characters' every move.

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Original post by Cosmic One
The idea of this combination has a lot of merit to it.
...
It would also help to add to the role playing element if a player had more real-time control of their character, where instead of ordering banal and generic commands at an avatar you would be controlling the characters' every move.

Exactly. There are a whole lot of games that touch on it. River City Ransom (NES and GBA), but it's ancient these days. Guardian Heroes (Sega Saturn) was also close. But neither game pushed the RPG elements very far. Both had point-spending stats, stories, and branches of directions the game could head off in, but they just didn't feel like true RPGs. Probably due to the fact that they were side scrollers. They were still a complete blast.

What I'm in the process of creating is (aimed at) a true RPG that just happens to have traded the menues for left and right punch and kick buttons. The battles will all be medieval, so I expect the fighting will be toned down to about 15-25 moves per AI character (Street Fighter characters have had around 35). Mostly because there won't be as much variety in the ways you can execute them. In 2D invironments, it's very easy to push back, down, forward, left. But from an overhead isometric view, I will have to resort to adventure game type sequences. Simple stuff like back, forward. Left, right. Or just pure one-directions. The fact that I have four attack buttons should give me plenty of combinations, though.

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It really depends on the person's age. Example: A very tired dad came back from a long day of work would rather play a turn-based game instead of a FAST FAST FAST FAST YOU LOSE kind of game. While a teen in the middle of studying would rather play something real-time.

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