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S-Dawg

Combat Systems - Which one?

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Hey guys I'm in the process of creating my own RPG (I know right, who isn't?) and am now stuck on the battle mechanic. As far as I can see, I have 3 options - Turn based: Similar to Pokemon - Real time: Similar to Zelda/Ultima Online. Never played these, but from what I've gleaned (from gameplay vids), this is how they work. - Instanced Real time: Sort of like Grandia (I think?) Which one, in your experience is the most enjoyable to play and the most engaging in terms of not getting bored after the 3rd battle? EDIT: Sorry for triple posting this thread, was having a bit of an issue. [Edited by - S-Dawg on June 10, 2009 11:46:37 AM]

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It depends on what you are after really. Both are enjoyable, maybe evenly, but its the audience that counts. Turn based fights are strategic and tactical if done well. You have time to think about what to do each turn and how best to optimize your strategy to ensure survival and eventually butt kicking awesomeness.

Real time of course is a bit of the opposite. You have little time to think about strategies while fighting and so you are either going to be well prepared and have done your thinking before hand, or you are going to fight by reflex and instinct. If you do real time you should have in mind which you want to encourage because the way your mechanics work will influence it. (I'm not sure what 'instanced' real time is and how it differs)

Some examples:

Turnbased fights should give the player many options each turn, and those options should lead to large differences in the state of the fight before the fight is likely to end. In other words, the player needs options and those options need to have an impact. This makes the player stop and think about which option to take. Considering you are pausing the game to give the player his turn, giving him a reason to want it paused (to think about his move) would be best.

Realtime fights should that are about preparation should have choices too, but they should be rigged such that they are made before the fight starts and the player has to last the fight, or even many, with that choice made. Things like memorizing spells, keeping a diverse but limited in number set of potions on hand, and having different abilities with long cool downs are all ways to encourage preparation and prepared strategies.

Realtime fights that are about reflex and instinct provide little to no way of preparing for the fight. They work on pumping the player's adrenaline and being exciting. I don't really know how to make a good system like that so I can't tell you how either, but suffice it to say, if you get it right, its addictive, and if you get it wrong, its boring. I do know that systems for this need to be kept pretty simple so the player can do what he intends and quickly. Cumbersome systems bog down the play's decision making and button pressing.

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Actually RPGs also have at least two other options for combat styles: turn-based tactical, occurring on a chessboard-like map, and realtime beat-em-up, occurring on a 2D battle stage.

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Thanks for the reply!

By the way, what I mean by instanced real time: its like when you enter an encounter with a monster but instead of being turn based you can run around and attack the monster independent of turns.

Building on what you were just saying, I have found that turn based battles are annoying while grinding XP (Pokemon, levelling a pokemon) but really fun and strategic when having boss battles.

So why not make a game which has a turn based system for important fights and all the other fights can be realtime?

If you were to play a game like this, would this annoy you or do you think its spreading the game too thin?

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Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
Actually RPGs also have at least two other options for combat styles: turn-based tactical, occurring on a chessboard-like map, and realtime beat-em-up, occurring on a 2D battle stage.


Yeah I know I left out the tactical turn based (d'oh)

I think what you say about realtime beat-em-up is what i meant by instanced realtime.

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I looked at Grandia and Grandia II, neither seemed to have a truly realtime combat system, they seemed to use timer bars. I was talking about kicking-punching-jumping combat like in Golden Axe, the 2D Mortal Kombats, or even a platformer RPG like MapleStory. Or there's realtime overhead combat that takes place in the main game rather than being instanced, like the Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Secret of Mana. Heck you could even use FPS combat in an RPG.

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Quote:
Original post by S-Dawg
Thanks for the reply!

By the way, what I mean by instanced real time: its like when you enter an encounter with a monster but instead of being turn based you can run around and attack the monster independent of turns.

Building on what you were just saying, I have found that turn based battles are annoying while grinding XP (Pokemon, levelling a pokemon) but really fun and strategic when having boss battles.

So why not make a game which has a turn based system for important fights and all the other fights can be realtime?

If you were to play a game like this, would this annoy you or do you think its spreading the game too thin?


If you aren't learning the nuances of the turn based system in regular combat, how are you going to know how to use it in a boss fight? But, I don't think it's an inherently bad idea. You could think of the action/grinding type of combat as a minigame and the turn based as the real combat. It is nice to play an RPG that isn't 90% doing the same kind of combat over and over. But I think the reason RPGs usually have a single, turn-based combat system is that it takes the least time and skill to program. Making two systems doubles the work, and realtime systems are more complex to program than turnbased.

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"If you aren't learning the nuances of the turn based system in regular combat, how are you going to know how to use it in a boss fight?"

Oh yeah! Lol, didn't think of that at all.

I agree that turn based systems do appear to be easier to code than real time. I'll have to think long and hard of a way to make the grind fights less time consuming (and boring) and the boss fights (important fights) more interesting.

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Why make your XP based on each individual combat?
Why not make it based your "Sessions" of play?

System tallies up what you did at the end of your play.
This is like level games that tally up how well you played the level after finishing the level, as opposed to tallying up everything on-the-fly.

In regards to mob-hunting...do you really need it?
Mob hunting is no different than if I plopped you into a room of balloons and said that each balloon is worth a dollar.

You have no interest in picking up balloons because it's not exciting, but you'll do it because of the money.

Just because you make a reward doesn't mean it's possibly the best idea for the activity to exist.

I would suggest figuring out what your players are for your game, and then flip it around so that your game provides the opportunities for players to be those facets that you need them to be for the system and reward them on those activities.
I doubt that if you do this, that you will end up saying that your system needs mob hunters.

If you just can't let go of mob-hunting, I would place it's point earnings at a penny per balloon picked up and place the activities that matter to your system at a higher earning like 2 dollars, and quests at whatever you want respectively to the difficulty of the quest.

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Star Ocean II had an option to do turn based/realtime as well as the 'Tales of' series on one side it you chose your actions when ever a timer runs out on the other you do your actions but they get weaker the quicker that you do them

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Star Ocean II had an option to do turn based/realtime as well as the 'Tales of' series on one side it you chose your actions when ever a timer runs out on the other you do your actions but they get weaker the quicker that you do them

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Mob hunting was never integral to the overall game, but mobs would have to be killed for quests etc.

Quests are a very central and important part of my game. They will have a much higher reward than most other things of course. Basically from what you are saying, I should innovate in the design of quests?

That is very true and I will do my best to make battles and quests a fun part of the game.
But, I've noticed from rpg's (especially WoW) that there is only so many types of quests you can implement; fetch, collect, escort, kill (can't think of others).

My understanding of your session idea is shakey, but I disagree with it because it takes away the instant satisfaction that makes RPG's addictive. But I will look into implementing it, any idea is a good one! :P


Sort of changing the subject here, but how many stats do you think are necessary in a game.
Obviously the usuals like Stamina (health) and intellect (mana/magic) but what about Strength, agility, armor, spirit? Do you personally enjoy the large potentials for character development available with many stats, or find it overwhelming.

PS: Mod please tell me if i should start a new thread for that question.

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As for stats I like both lol.

I really hate setting up my character attributes if there are more than a handful before I start playing, though in the end I like the diversity of many different attributes to make my character unique.

I would suggest starting off with your basic stats, strength, stamina, agility, intellect, wisdom. Then after whatever level you can increase the pools of where people can put a focus in. After level 10 they can also increase their armor, dodge, charisma. At level 20 they can add points to additional ones and so forth.

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To be honest, I'm not going to be allowing them to choose attribute initially. Like in WoW, the class they choose changes the modifier value for each stat. What I meant was people being overwhelmed when a weapon adds + to spirit, and you have no clue what that is.

Do most players enjoy the fact that you have to make a wise trade-off?

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Quote:
Original post by S-Dawg
I disagree with it because it takes away the instant satisfaction that makes RPG's addictive.

*shrug* money works.

Think about it from this angle:
Why would some character run out into the yonder to adventure like this?
For an item that allows them to go do even more crazy adventures like this?
That seems awkward and endless.

Usually character's are after something, not just something endless.

The two common motives are pursuit and money.

If it's pursuit, then it would indicate that the quest is a way of getting to somewhere, or getting something that is needed (or needed to be at) to move forward on the larger ambition.

So, perhaps think of large meta-quests, and then break them down to smaller quests components.

Instead of rewarding with items and loot over and over for no merited reason, perhaps try making each sub-quest deliver information, items, or locations that are needed to get to the next sub-quest.

And why the big quest in the first place?
That depends on your game universe, but that could range from money, artifact items, land grants, etc...

I just watched 3:10 to Yuma the other day.
The main character's quest in that story was to deliver a prisoner.
His reward, should he finish, was money and land for his family.

Pretty simple, and it didn't keep him going awkwardly onward into more criminal delivery quests. (holding on stating his success or not as not to spoil it for anyone that hasn't seen it).

Obviously, as developers, we want player to keep playing and adventuring is what they, as players, did come to do.
This is a given, yes, but that doesn't mean that we need to think of the character's and the world as we think of our developers, servers, and players.

We can think of our player's character's as character's with their own motives.
We can ask, "why would they quest off into the wild so endlessly?" and try to come up with an answer that stands to reason for the world setting.

For instance, in Star Wars universes, the justification can be oppression related very easily.
In fact, war settings often offer the easiest excuses as to why endless questing is done.

Remove the war setting and you really need to come up with some explanation that makes sense for so many thousands of citizens of the world to be off adventuring.

Making that excuse will give you much more footing onto what your quests are for and what is achieved by doing; as related to your world's universe, not to players.
(we know what the quests are for, for players, and we know what is achieved mechanically by doing them; I am referring to character of the world and the player's character.)

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I think you need to look at what role combat is going to have in your game. IF the game is going to be players beating up monsters for loot, then this is an important dramatic place in the game.

In this case, combat is what the player will see of your game.

Knowing this, what is it that you want players to think of when they think about your game. Do you want them to think that it is a strategic game or a more action/high adrenalin game?

Is your story one where fast paced action is important to the plot? Or is your story more slower and deliberate? Are the characters investigating or are they out for revenge?

If the characters in your story are investigating and thus having a slower paced, more methodical story, then having high adrenaline sections that take the focus away from this is probably not a good idea. But, if your characters are thirsting for vengeance due to some wrong, then a more action oriented gameplay is better as it fits the style of the story.

Have the style of the gameplay compliment the style of the story.

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Original post by S-Dawg
Sort of changing the subject here, but how many stats do you think are necessary in a game.
Obviously the usuals like Stamina (health) and intellect (mana/magic) but what about Strength, agility, armor, spirit? Do you personally enjoy the large potentials for character development available with many stats, or find it overwhelming.


To each his own. Some people like roleplaying, some like min-maxing. Provide both. For example, you could have three basic stats: Body, Mind, Social. Each could have three substats, Body (Strength, Constitution, Dexterity), Mind (Intelligence, Wisdom, Knowledge), Social (Charisma, Empathy, Beauty). For those who'd just like to get over with stats, Body 10 means their char has 10 Strength, 10 Constitution and 10 Dexterity. For a min-maxer, 10 Body could mean his char has 15 Strength, 8 Constitution and 7 Dexterity. Make stats useful but optional.

Same with combat. If turn based is to tiresome for standard mobs, provide a way to click a button and generate an average result. Encountering 10 goblins will on average waste 10 mana and 10 hit points per char. If the player wants to do better than this, let him fight on the board.

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Original post by nvoigt
For those who'd just like to get over with stats, Body 10 means their char has 10 Strength, 10 Constitution and 10 Dexterity. For a min-maxer, 10 Body could mean his char has 15 Strength, 8 Constitution and 7 Dexterity. Make stats useful but optional.

This is an interesting concept worth exploring.
Thanks for the new mental chew-toy.

Quote:
Same with combat. If turn based is to tiresome for standard mobs, provide a way to click a button and generate an average result. Encountering 10 goblins will on average waste 10 mana and 10 hit points per char. If the player wants to do better than this, let him fight on the board.

I have to disagree with this one though.
Stat management is one thing, but express route for your game's combat is dangerous and tells the player that nothing really interesting happens during it anyway, so you don't really have to do it...we'll do it for you.

This tells the player that your game is crap and that you know it.

Even if they like having the combat-express option, they are devaluing the game.


That said, this is ONLY if you are not making a social spectrum to match the combat spectrum.
However, if you are, and the social spectrum is a series of careful considerations and options, as one has in count for combat, then I completely agree with the idea of an auto-combat button.

I also would suggest that if the last paragraph is true for your game, that you might think of including a auto-social button since your min-maxers may not want to play the social aspects of the game. Also, include a skip cut-scene option, even if it is the first time. And perhaps consider a skip level option for people that don't have time to play the whole thing...something that just highlights some average experiences of playing the level and shows them to the player while the next level loads. If you really want to kick it forward, I would suggest also allowing and option to watch a video-slide-show of an average experience of the game from any point at which a player is at just in case they get bored but still wonder what the rest of the game is like.




Of course, the last two paragraphs are sarcastic statements to help show what it seems like someone does when they "zip" up any part of their game.

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Stat management is one thing, but express route for your game's combat is dangerous and tells the player that nothing really interesting happens during it anyway, so you don't really have to do it...we'll do it for you.


I hear this argument alot, and it's pretty weak. I've enjoyed all of the Total War games, and they have the feature that you're talking about. I know people that will walk everywhere in Oblivion even though there's a fast travel system. In Final Fantasy I usually enjoy fighting the random monsters because of the xp, but eventually I'll be in an area where the flee option becomes really useful. I believe Civilization also has options for the game to virtually play itself.

Letting a player skip an encounter that is unimportant to the story and has been seen before is a great feature. Just make sure there's still an incentive not to skip it (no xp for skipping, greater losses, etc).

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Original post by MossStone
I've enjoyed all of the Total War games, and they have the feature that you're talking about.I know people that will walk everywhere in Oblivion even though there's a fast travel system. In Final Fantasy I usually enjoy fighting the random monsters because of the xp, but eventually I'll be in an area where the flee option becomes really useful. I believe Civilization also has options for the game to virtually play itself.

In each example above, the respective system has told you how they value each feature they allow express routes around, in respect to their other systems in the game, and their expectation of their target market audience they expect to play.

I stand by my statement on the ground of what I did say.
I don't really take interest in what successful games have done this; that doesn't change what I said about it at all.

There is also a large difference between retreat like FF has and skip combat like TW has, so I don't think that FF's retreat system is eligible for the conversation.

Further on than this, he isn't discussing a game like TW or RotTK (which are war-based super-Risk games more closely related to Civilization).

He is making a game that is more akin to Oblivion which, correct me if I am wrong here, doesn't allow you to fast forward combat interaction.

He is working on an RPG (it seems to be a CRPG and not an MMO).

Exactly how would you suggest that he should include this zip-combat feature into a game where most of the time spent it going to be combat (it's an RPG; combat will be about 80 to 90% of the game time in the typical RPG [MMO or not]).

That was the point for him that was being made.

So it's not a weak point as you think.
If you want combat zipped up in games that dominately spend time in combat...then you don't want to play games that are combat oriented.

CRPG's tend to be combat oriented...Oblivion is a great example.
They zipped up the part they knew was not worth containing for their target market audience; not combat.

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In some of the Final Fantasy games you eventually get items that allow you to avoid some random encounters. I'm pretty sure the old Fallout games and Balder's Gate also had ways of avoiding random encounters too. Sometimes a player may want to avoid combat for whatever reason, whether they've fought that enemy alot recently, fancy a monster a bit more challenging, or something a bit easier. Giving players the ability to avoid combat shouldn't be seen as a bad feature.

And yes, running away from a battle is exactly the same as skipping it.

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