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Beige

States-Based RPG Battle system

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I was wondering about the viability of a battle system that didn't function based on the player putting in every little command, but instead having the player switch between a series of defined states for each of their party members/units; states which would determine how they would function and work together. The player would be able to customize these states prior to combat; thus allowing for a wide range of possible behaviors. Combo attacks would be active based on the overlap of these states, the states that enemy units are currently in, etc. Regular commands would be available, but the idea behind this is a real-time system anyway.

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You mean, instead of having to plan your own, and counter your opponent's individual attacks, you flip a switch which puts your character into "attack mode"?
Of course, I realize you want something more detailed than that, but essentially, won't it be the same? Won't battles become boring when you as a player are completely detached from individual attacks/moves?

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Have you ever checked out Nero?
Although it's more about AI, it does allow you to train your soldiers by putting them in a certain state appropriate for the situation.

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There would be lots of different states. It wouldn't be just simply switching stuff on and watching it go.

Knowing when to change these states, and what state to use for each situation would be crucial.

I almost think of your party's states as the notes of a musical chord, becoming a cadence when the battle reaches a crux, changing in dynamic level as the situation and position of your forces changes.

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Original post by Beige
There would be lots of different states. It wouldn't be just simply switching stuff on and watching it go.

Knowing when to change these states, and what state to use for each situation would be crucial.

So how is it an improvement over the "normal" system?
You get that normally too. Having to perform the right moves at the right time is crucial even without your state system.

My point is that you add a layer of abstraction between the player and the actual battle. You don't see your character perform x attack on an enemy. You see your character going into mode X, while the opponent is in mode Y, and so your opponent loses a bit of health.
And that might just make you a lot more detached from the battles, and lose interest in them.

Quote:

I almost think of your party's states as the notes of a musical chord, becoming a cadence when the battle reaches a crux, changing in dynamic level as the situation and position of your forces changes.

Very poetic, but would it be fun to play? ;)

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The idea is that manipulating states via UI would be easier than tabbing through of various actions, which there would be a lot of.

Assigning usable actions to different states would be a key part of the game, since the states themselves would be fewer. This way, it would be possible to take advantage of everything your characters do, in real time.

While the player wouldn't always have feedback for every shot fired, every bullet dodged, key actions such as using a combo, or interceding manually when a given action supercedes what a state would imply, would allow the player a fine degree of control over the battle without forcing pauses.

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Quote:
Original post by Beige
I was wondering about the viability of a battle system that didn't function based on the player putting in every little command, but instead having the player switch between a series of defined states for each of their party members/units; states which would determine how they would function and work together.

The player would be able to customize these states prior to combat; thus allowing for a wide range of possible behaviors. Combo attacks would be active based on the overlap of these states, the states that enemy units are currently in, etc.

Regular commands would be available, but the idea behind this is a real-time system anyway.


It isn't clear to me if you want the AI to handle the actual combat, with 'standing orders' for the units, or if you want a macro like feature which runs a series of attack/defense actions.

The latter would be cool, the former has some serious problems.

1) Loss of connection with the character(s).
2) A number of players like to micro manage their character(s).
3) States would require more memorization than regular moves since they behave differently than what most players are used to.

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A combination of both, actually.

States would be macros, but also have some behaviors attached to them.

A character in a generic offensive state would attack the selected target whenever they have a chance, and move to finish off enemies with low HP.

Characters in their normal state would automatically move in the most convenient direction to avoid thrown grenades, while characters with an altered state, say, "stunned," wouldn't.

New states would allow refinement of these behaviors, as well as allow for greater versatility with regards to the actions available.

In this way, actions that affect the states of the enemy become even more important.

Some games already have such actions. Many MMORPG's have a "taunt" command assigned to the meatshield that focuses an opponent to focus on that character.

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I'd like to see another level, an overarching state for the whole team/party. In Ogre Battle, simple coaching meorders like "target leader" or "focus on weakest enemy" made a profound difference in the results of a battle.

I like your idea very much.

If your Paladin is in a mode that focusses on keeing your team out of harm's way and dealing damage when the opportunity arises, your ninja is set to go balls-out until he's pretty beat up, then report to the Paladin for healing, and your mage is set to keep out of harm's way and fire a lightning bolt when he gets enough charge, you could just let them go or most fights. That will streamline a lot of random battles and "grind" efforts. Set your team up so the thief gets maximum game time if you want to buff him, or balance them out for optimal anti-dragon performance. Shifting gears as the enemy changes or as your system fails would be very engaging. I think you should explore this possibility further.

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Quote:
Original post by Beige
A combination of both, actually.

States would be macros, but also have some behaviors attached to them.

A character in a generic offensive state would attack the selected target whenever they have a chance, and move to finish off enemies with low HP.

Characters in their normal state would automatically move in the most convenient direction to avoid thrown grenades, while characters with an altered state, say, "stunned," wouldn't.

New states would allow refinement of these behaviors, as well as allow for greater versatility with regards to the actions available.

In this way, actions that affect the states of the enemy become even more important.

Some games already have such actions. Many MMORPG's have a "taunt" command assigned to the meatshield that focuses an opponent to focus on that character.


Personally, I think the above is going to suffer from those flaws I mentioned earlier in a true RPG. But good luck with your idea.

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