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Turn-based RPG styles

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So, I'm designing a little RPG game... Here are some screens, to give ya a little taste :D screen 1 screen 2 I am definetly going with turn-based combat. But I am not quite decided how I want to do it. Currently I have a rogue-like combat system. You basically run into a monster, you hit, it hits, repeat. Which is cool I guess, but it gives the game an annoying stuccato rythem. Another style I was thinking of was Fallout. Where a combat round is executed by someone and combat mode begins etc. But this has the annoying effect of pottentially making a gigantic battlefield. The entire map becomes combat mode! Anyone who has playd fallout knows what I'm talking about. I want the best of both worlds. I want you to get into combat, but I want a logical battlefield definition. One Idea I had was to set the map up like Chrono Trigger... remember that? Battle began, and it was just basically all the monsters on screen, your characters had a limited movement range in that "arena" and thus a battle played out. I think Parasite Eve had something similar, but more action oriented. I think Chrono triggers system is closser to what I want. I dunno. Anyone out there have any good suggestions on a good turn-based combat mode? Are there any games you have seen which implement an interesting/origional turn based combat system that I could look at? I really want something fresh, fun, energetic, yet tactical and challenging. Just want to toss some ideas around... EDIT: The main character is unpainted, and unanimated :) That's why she is white and her arms are sticking out. It's not supposed to be that way, remember, this is a work in progress :D EDIT: I thought I'd also chunk up a screen of my editor: screen 3 It uses the same game engine as the game and is built all in the lua scripting engine. Why do I show this? Because I'm proud of it, so there ;) [Edited by - psyjax on April 6, 2006 3:14:59 PM]

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The game is looking pretty good so far!

You've already listed some of my favourite battle systems for RPGs (Rogue-like, Fallout and Chrono Trigger work well), so I guess it depends a lot on exactly what kind of flavour you wish to give your game. I take it you don't like having a completely turn-based game (like with rogue-likes), and you wish to have the game run in real-time when not in combat (like Fallout and Chrono Trigger)?

I agree that the main flaw of Fallout's battle system was the slow-down when the entire map became a battle field, particularly in the cities. Your suggestion of a localised battle screen, like with Chrono Trigger, would work well in my view. The RPG may become a little "consolified" though; Chrono Trigger usually spaced out the enemies into screen sized blocks and rearranged the combatants into an console RPG battle formation (i.e. everyone runs into "battle positions"); it's up to you if you want that or not. Personally I think it works either way.

Quick question though: Is a "battle screen", where the game switches from a map view to a special battle mode screen (most common in console RPGs), out of the question? Your choices of models seem to suggest that it is. Again, it can work either way, but if you do switch to a battle screen it does allow you to set a completely different set of rules for how the world works.

One tactical decision I liked in Grandia II was the ability to move people to better positions. Combined with a series of area or ray based attack patterns it would work well with a console-style battle RPG to add some tactics to your game. Grandia II also had a very good tactical battle system (one of the best I've seen in a console RPG) that you might want to look at (it's described in the Wikipedia link to the game here better than I would summarise in this post).

You could also combine some action elements, similar to what was done in the Mario RPGs (which I also found quite tactical). In the game I've played, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, you had to perform little mini-games (usually timing based button presses) with every attack in order to increase its effectiveness (or for it to perform at all), which meant sometimes you had to trade-off the damage an attack did with the difficulty of the mini-game.

But it all does depend a lot on what kind of style you wish to give your game; realistic versus arcade, the degree of tactics required, the pace of the game etc.

Best of luck!



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Well, I wasn't able to view the images, but I hope your game is coming along okay. I'm also working on a turn-based RPG. Mine is aimed at a conglomeration between roguelikes, tactical RPGs, and traditional "battle screen" RPGs (like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest/Warrior, Wild Arms, etc.).

Here's a link to my thread:

http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=384000

I am still very early in the battle system design process. Im leaning towards an ATB-styled tactical RPG. The roguelike system was an option early on, but I'm going to be implementing a party system. Although designing a roguelike with party mechanics is possible, there are more headaches involved than I care to deal with.

As for some suggestions for your battle system, one suggestion might be concatenating the map into a battle map at a certain radius from the "ground zero". Any enemies outside of this range aren't included in the battle (but might be involved in a later battle?). This is similar to the Chrono Trigger idea, but a little more blatant - the rest of the world actually disappears. It also gives you the freedom to have a battle occur just about anywhere.

Good luck on your game!

EDIT: Nevermind, I can see them fine now. Strange they didn't pop up at first. I even copy and pasted the URLs into the address bar)

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Original post by Trapper Zoid
The game is looking pretty good so far!


Thanks! It's been a few months in the making. Worked very hard on the core engine design which is built in C/C++. The game itself is pretty much written in Lua. I took great care to keep scripting simple so that, if I am lucky enugh to get players, they can mod/enhance the game easily.

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You've already listed some of my favourite battle systems for RPGs (Rogue-like, Fallout and Chrono Trigger work well), so I guess it depends a lot on exactly what kind of flavour you wish to give your game. I take it you don't like having a completely turn-based game (like with rogue-likes), and you wish to have the game run in real-time when not in combat (like Fallout and Chrono Trigger)?


Ya. I definetly don't want the game 100% turn based. Let me give you all an idea of the feel I want to the game.

I want this to be a synthesis of what's great about CRPGs and Console-RPGs. I want the depth of gameplay found in a CRPG where you have lots of skills, lots of subquests, lots of solutions to the same problems, etc. The model for this is probably Fallout where you had that nifty skilldex allowing you to tinker with just about everything in the game world. During battle, you could set bombs, target a shot etc. etc.

Though I want to meld it with the coolness of Console-Rpgs. Crisp graphics, great storyline, fun/fast gameplay, and strong character development. The model for this is deffinetly Chrono Trigger which I think is probably one of the best console-style rpg's ever made (Xenogears a close second :) ).

These games have fast and furious turn-based combat at the expense of deep tactics, which IMHO can lead to repetative fights. On the other hand, CRPGs can get boged down in tactics. So many choices, such a huge battlefield, so many damn weapons etc. I want to strike a balance between the two.

I suppose one idea is to make a Chrono Trigger style ATB battle system, and expand the scope. Allow more movement, a greater variety of skills/strategies, etc.

Right now, I am thinking that a certain section of the map could be cordoned off when you encounter a monster, This allowes you to move around that area (tactics style) and fight your baddies. This brings in other considerations. Imagine a long narrow hallway. You encounter a monster, your party members are singlefile behind you... now what? They are stuck leaving your main character to take the brunt of combat.

Another issue is LOS (line of sight). Say a monster is in a locked room next to you, yet the engine determins that the monster goes hostile. Well, now you are in battlemode against a monster you can't reach! I admit, this is more of a coding problem, than a real issue with the battlesystem, but I don't know if I wanna tackle it ;)

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I agree that the main flaw of Fallout's battle system was the slow-down when the entire map became a battle field, particularly in the cities. Your suggestion of a localised battle screen, like with Chrono Trigger, would work well in my view. The RPG may become a little "consolified" though; Chrono Trigger usually spaced out the enemies into screen sized blocks and rearranged the combatants into an console RPG battle formation (i.e. everyone runs into "battle positions"); it's up to you if you want that or not. Personally I think it works either way.


Ya. The more I think about it a more Chrono Trigger style is the way to go. I just want you to be able to do crazy stuff, use polymorph wands like in NetHack, eat orc meat, I dunno :) I just want that level of depth and variety, while keeping battles to a fun/fast scope.

Quote:
Quick question though: Is a "battle screen", where the game switches from a map view to a special battle mode screen (most common in console RPGs), out of the question? Your choices of models seem to suggest that it is. Again, it can work either way, but if you do switch to a battle screen it does allow you to set a completely different set of rules for how the world works.


Ya. Personaly, I don't like this. I'm sick of random battles. Don't get me wrong, some games that use this are great. Fanal Fantasy, the recent Dragon Warrior game. It's just not where I wanna go with my project.

Although, what if you encounter the monsters on the map, then the map sort of fades out, and you are in a circular arena agains the beast. That may work... hmmm...

Quote:
One tactical decision I liked in Grandia II was the ability to move people to better positions. Combined with a series of area or ray based attack patterns it would work well with a console-style battle RPG to add some tactics to your game. Grandia II also had a very good tactical battle system (one of the best I've seen in a console RPG) that you might want to look at (it's described in the Wikipedia link to the game here better than I would summarise in this post).


Interesting, a friend of mine likes Grandia II alot. He also mentioned that I should look into it's battlesystem. I may go pick up a copy.

Quote:
You could also combine some action elements, similar to what was done in the Mario RPGs (which I also found quite tactical). In the game I've played, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, you had to perform little mini-games (usually timing based button presses) with every attack in order to increase its effectiveness (or for it to perform at all), which meant sometimes you had to trade-off the damage an attack did with the difficulty of the mini-game.


Ya, I may include some skills like this. That reminds me a bit of Xenogears battlesystem. You would chain up combos like in Streat Fighter, it was actually preaty awsome.

[quote]But it all does depend a lot on what kind of style you wish to give your game; realistic versus arcade, the degree of tactics required, the pace of the game etc./quote]

Well, you have definetly helped me think about this and define my goals further. I think just sharing ideas is leading me to a good solution. Thank you very much.

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Original post by wildhalcyon
Well, I wasn't able to view the images, but I hope your game is coming along okay. I'm also working on a turn-based RPG. Mine is aimed at a conglomeration between roguelikes, tactical RPGs, and traditional "battle screen" RPGs (like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest/Warrior, Wild Arms, etc.).

Here's a link to my thread:

http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=384000


Cool stuff! Hey, what language are you using? I saw a really great Open-Source tactics RPG writen in Python using Pygame. You may want to check it out for code ideas. http://www.galaxymage.org/index.php/Main_Page

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As for some suggestions for your battle system, one suggestion might be concatenating the map into a battle map at a certain radius from the "ground zero". Any enemies outside of this range aren't included in the battle (but might be involved in a later battle?). This is similar to the Chrono Trigger idea, but a little more blatant - the rest of the world actually disappears. It also gives you the freedom to have a battle occur just about anywhere.


This reminds me of parasite eve. I also mentioned a similar idea in my most recent post before this one. I may be leaning toward this, but I sure would hate to drop out the game world :(

Boy! It sure is hard weighing all these pros and cons :)

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Just had another idea...

What about making the entire dungeon tactics like? i.e. Player moves his 'pieces' then the dungeon moves it's 'pieces'?

Monsters offscreen wouldn't be shown and thus their moves would be instantaneous. You would only notice a slowdown when monsters are in combat range because you could see them taking their turns. This would require you to cycle trugh your party and move each one though... kinda like the old board game HeroQuest, remember that?

Would this make the game too slow? What do you all think of this idea?

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Original post by psyjax
Just had another idea...

What about making the entire dungeon tactics like? i.e. Player moves his 'pieces' then the dungeon moves it's 'pieces'?

Monsters offscreen wouldn't be shown and thus their moves would be instantaneous. You would only notice a slowdown when monsters are in combat range because you could see them taking their turns. This would require you to cycle trugh your party and move each one though... kinda like the old board game HeroQuest, remember that?

Would this make the game too slow? What do you all think of this idea?


I don't think there is a reason to. Maybe how the engine handles it but there is no reason for the player to know about it. If there is nothing to fight/get in the way they shouldn't have to stop every 10 steps or whatever their movement rate is. Maybe once they move 10 steps move the monster position by their movement rate and once they have a monster on screen move to the stop & go kind of movemnet.

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Original post by tstrimp

I don't think there is a reason to. Maybe how the engine handles it but there is no reason for the player to know about it. If there is nothing to fight/get in the way they shouldn't have to stop every 10 steps or whatever their movement rate is. Maybe once they move 10 steps move the monster position by their movement rate and once they have a monster on screen move to the stop & go kind of movemnet.


Ya. I'm likeing this idea! Another possibility is to have an ATB timer going while there are no monsters on screan being attacked. Basicaly, if the player idles, for a given amount of time. The monsters will take their move as well. When combat begins, the timer disapears and turns are taken normaly.

My one gripe is having a party. You get a total of 3 characters on screen. I think it may be anoying to have to issue commands to each one individualy even if you are not in a fight.

One solution, party members are controled by AI (can be annoying if AI isn't good, can also make the player feel detatched.)

Another solution, is to make the party simply follow the player untill combat begins for sure. Monster on screen, party splits up, and player must issue commands etc.

hmmm.... Another interesting ramifaction of this might be the possibility of spliting up the party to acomplish different goals. Say, you needed each member to pull a switch simultaneusly in a different room. So you split them up to go do this...

In this case, would it be so annoying to issue commands to all 3 of your party members? Perhapse you can turn off follow mode, to allow you to micro-manage all your characters movements. Sort of like a turn-based Baldur's Gate.

Yes! Keep 'em coming! I'll crack this nut yet ;)

Really, thanks alot for your input folks.

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Yes, have them follow you. How many characters will you have at once? If 3 then it shouldn't be a problem to right click on the players you are not using and select stay here or stop following. Make switching between characters as easy as pressing tab to toggle through them. Also, check out wild arms if you haven't. Some players have abilities that are not combat related that they need to use in order to get past certain spots. This will give more of a reason for switching characters.

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Even though I haven't worked out combat entirely yet, I have worked out a method for dispersing the party prior to battle.

Each character has a position setting which tells them whether they should be forward or rear, central or flank. At the start of battle (however that is eventually defined), the game assigns positions automatically. The rear individuals step back a pace or two, the forward individuals advance a pace or two, and battle begins.

Thanks for pointing me to that galaxymage game. That's pretty nifty looking. I'll talk to them about potentially becoming a campaign/scenario developer.

[Edited by - wildhalcyon on April 6, 2006 11:59:00 AM]

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Original post by wildhalcyon
Even though I haven't worked out combat entirely yet, I have worked out a method for dispersing the party prior to battle.

Each character has a position setting which tells them whether they should be forward or rear, central or flank. At the start of battle (however that is eventually defined), the game assigns positions automatically. The rear individuals step back a pace or two, the forward individuals advance a pace or two, and battle begins.

Thanks for pointing me to that galaxymage game. That's pretty nifty looking. I'll talk to them about potentially becoming a campaign/scenario developer.


Ya! go for it. I like their game alot! Very nice. Also, python is such a fun and simple language. I don't know what you were working in before, but if it was C/C++ , you will love Python for it's ass kicking goodness ;)

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What about a pseudo-turn based system like Baldur's Gate or Neverwinter Nights?

The combat plays out in real time, but with an underlying turn based system. Commands issued to the the characters take place in the next turn. If you want to issue some complicated commands, hit pause, set everything up, and unpause it. Otherwise, you can just watch the battle play itself out. You could even have a toggle to make the game auto-pause at the start of each turn.

This way, you can have turn based combat without it overly affecting the flow of the game.

Anyway, it looks good so far - keep up the good work!

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Original post by Sandman
What about a pseudo-turn based system like Baldur's Gate or Neverwinter Nights?

The combat plays out in real time, but with an underlying turn based system. Commands issued to the the characters take place in the next turn. If you want to issue some complicated commands, hit pause, set everything up, and unpause it. Otherwise, you can just watch the battle play itself out. You could even have a toggle to make the game auto-pause at the start of each turn.

This way, you can have turn based combat without it overly affecting the flow of the game.

Anyway, it looks good so far - keep up the good work!


I have toyed with this idea, and while I love BG, I want this to be a more layed back game. Further, that would add an extra layer of complexety to deal with. I am but one man :) I could pobably do it, but It's really beyond my scope. Besides, I have allways envisiond this as a fully turn-based game.

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Im thinking of making my turn-based RPG battles like X-Com, more tactical. You and the enemy have a certain amount of 'time units' (which can be affected by race, class, exp, etc.) and every battle move you execute takes a certain amount of time. So basically, you chose a move, then after its executed, the battle pauses and you chose your next move based on what the monster did while you were attacking, blocking, etc.

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You could have the player decide if they are in combat or not. The monsters might still be able to attack the player's characters even if the player has not "entered" combat. The player can only give combat related commands if they enter combat (you could have this for each individual character or for the entire party).

Combat will be an area that surounds the character that is flaged as "In Combat". If there are no monsters in this area the player will be asked if they wish to remain in the combat state (different actions are available to characters in and out of a combat state).

If yuo have a action delay (that is represented by a timer bar) that determines the delay before that character completes thier action and can begin the next action (this time could be different for each character depending on the action and the character's stats and skills) and the ability to pause the game (or enter a turn based mode) should allow for a game that can play as either a relaxed game or also as an action(ish) game as the player wants (I always perfer to give the player more control over how the game is played where posable).

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Original post by Edtharan
You could have the player decide if they are in combat or not. The monsters might still be able to attack the player's characters even if the player has not "entered" combat. The player can only give combat related commands if they enter combat (you could have this for each individual character or for the entire party).

Combat will be an area that surounds the character that is flaged as "In Combat". If there are no monsters in this area the player will be asked if they wish to remain in the combat state (different actions are available to characters in and out of a combat state).

If yuo have a action delay (that is represented by a timer bar) that determines the delay before that character completes thier action and can begin the next action (this time could be different for each character depending on the action and the character's stats and skills) and the ability to pause the game (or enter a turn based mode) should allow for a game that can play as either a relaxed game or also as an action(ish) game as the player wants (I always perfer to give the player more control over how the game is played where posable).


I think I'm getting close to your idea.

Ok, this is what I have come up with.

When no monsters are hostile, everything moves real time. If you enter an area with hostile monsters turn-based mode begins. You have an ATB style guage. If you wait to long, monsters will take their turn (I may make this feature optional for those who want 100% 'pure' turn based). From that point on it's almost like a regular ol'roguelike combat mode. Until a) you kill everything, b) no other hostile monsters are actively persuing you, b) you get far out of range.

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If you wait to long, monsters will take their turn (I may make this feature optional for those who want 100% 'pure' turn based).

I think the best way to have it optional is to automaticly go into a turn based system if the player presses pause. While in pause they can give orders and commands to their characters. They are also able to click a "Next Turn" button which will advance the game by a set amount of "Time" or until the next action can be performed (according to the ATB). If the player unpauses the game it goes back into the real time mode and the player has to give their orders in real time (useing the ATB too).

This gives the best of both worlds and allows the player to choose which style to use and when. So attacking a few small "Mobs" that they easily over power they might leave it in realtime mode so as to get through them quickly, but if the Monsters are tougher (like a boss) then they can become more tactical about it and enter the turn based made, which gives them more time to think (and still allows them to pause the game if they ever need to).

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If you wait to long, monsters will take their turn (I may make this feature optional for those who want 100% 'pure' turn based).

I think the best way to have it optional is to automaticly go into a turn based system if the player presses pause. While in pause they can give orders and commands to their characters. They are also able to click a "Next Turn" button which will advance the game by a set amount of "Time" or until the next action can be performed (according to the ATB). If the player unpauses the game it goes back into the real time mode and the player has to give their orders in real time (useing the ATB too).

This gives the best of both worlds and allows the player to choose which style to use and when. So attacking a few small "Mobs" that they easily over power they might leave it in realtime mode so as to get through them quickly, but if the Monsters are tougher (like a boss) then they can become more tactical about it and enter the turn based made, which gives them more time to think (and still allows them to pause the game if they ever need to).


Hmmm... here is another idea I had, similar to what you are talking about. How about make it sort of like a football game :)

I mean, the game pauses based on the ATB. When it's your turn, you issue commands to your side. Essentially you define a play like in football. You hit the go button, that advances the game by a certain amount of time allowing you to see how your "play" works. Then the game pauses again, repeat.

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the system reminds me an awful lot of the Might&Magic system... Not the Heroes, though... But maybe you could add something from there too...

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