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Got_Rhythm

Turn Based Combat Features

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Hi there, so I have completed a vertical slice of my monster collection RPG. It is to be released on PC, console and mobile. 

 

The turn based-battle system feels a little dry though and I am exploring adding a feature or mechanic to make it more engaging. 

 

 

Right now the closest example would be the Pokemon games, where the player chooses one of four actions (some deal direct damage, some buff, some debuff. All have chance to critical and chance to miss). Then the opponent does so, and on and on. 

 

There are three player monsters and three enemy monsters. There is HP but no MP and no move limit (like in Pokemon). There are no items and no equipment. The variation and customization comes only from the collectible monsters. 

 

 

I am playing with the idea of adding something like a limit-break from FF games, or combining attacks like from Chronotrigger. Is there anything else I should be considering?

 

Thank you. 

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So, no items.  I.e. nothing to equip.  The change comes from selecting the monsters that will be fighting.  Each on having (I assume) a very limited and very focused nature.  

 

Here are a few loose thoughts.

 

1) Perhaps the ability to change a character mid fight.  Perhaps with some stipulation, like their health must be maxed, and that monster uses their action for the round.

 

2) You didn't express much about the options they do have, So here are a few considerations.

 - use a round to power up any action, I.e. Wind up for a punch, so the punch does 3X damage.

 - Take a Hit for/from X.  Some monsters might be really strong at taking a beating.  Perhaps you could have them guard a character, so an enemy has to hit them first.  Or perhaps they could defend from a particular enemy, no matter who it is going after.

 

3) Perhaps you could have it be 1 on 1, but with X number of characters that could switch out as their action.  And first to no characters left, or first loss, loses.

 

4) if it is multiplayer, FF timer would be great, so you don't have to wait on X player to make their attack decision.

 

5) Do the monsters Get XP from being in a fight?  Perhaps team up a weaker monster with a pair of veterans, and take on something easier, so it gains XP.

 

Another consideration though, is the differences between Desktop and Mobile.  I.e. Mobile players are typically looking for something they can start in a few seconds, and drop at any instance.  I.e. waiting in line, board for a moment, just wasting time.  When compared with desktop/console, the play style is usually more engaging/in depth.   Not making any suggestions, but just keep the modes of game play in mind when targeting systems.

Edited by Dan Violet Sagmiller

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In a team battle there is an obvious way to increase complexity: the whole team fights together, without swapping monsters (which tends to be a fairly boring move) and each attack targets a specific enemy monster, retaining the same abstract or trivial positioning of Pokemon games and a similar display (the whole teams, everybody's status, and turn order).

I see three main possibilities for basic turn structure:

  • Actions taking a variable time, every monster acts when ready: the same team, or even the same monster, can have consecutive turns, but only as a temporary result of choosing very quick and presumably weak actions. Obviously appropriate if there is a wide range of actions of different durations (brief, normal or long) that shouldn't all have the same cost of "one turn".
  • Fixed order (team 1 monster 1, team 2 monster 2, etc.), suitable for predicting what will happen many turns in advance and therefore appropriate if move effects have little or no randomness.
  • Flexible order (alternating teams but letting the player choose which monster acts, freely or among those who haven't moved this turn), suitable for optimizing move choice beyond a single monster and appropriate if move usefulness varies a lot according to the situation.

 

Concentration of attacks against a certain monster could be limited if necessary with simple rules (cannot attack the same opponent as the preceding teammate in turn order because they are still engaged, cannot attack the enemy with the least hit points or any enemy that is stunned, blinded etc. because it's not nice, and so on).

I would expect a significant importance for buffing and healing moves affecting teammates, for delaying and disturbing opponents, and for combinations of attacks from multiple monsters (which can be contrasted with the narrower tactical options of single monster fights).

Edited by LorenzoGatti

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Thank you guys those are some great points. I'll continue to make sure what I have is balanced and then try out some of your suggestions.

My hope is to make it FEEL tactical, which will of course take a lot of testing and feedback. But I'm confident I'll get there.

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There are two things I can think of that would be relatively simple (esp. given the intention to port to mobile) but still add a layer to the combat.

 

(1) Add a timeline of whose moves are upcoming, and have abilities that can manipulate turn order (slowing effects, speeding effects, etc.), abilities that take variable amounts of time to complete, and abilities that cancel an opponent's in-progress ability.  This opens up a new dimension -- well, a dimension you have anyway, but may not be making full use of.  

 

Grandia's the prototypical RPG battle system for this sort of thing, but for a turn-based example, there's Final Fantasy X.  Neither is a complicated battle system in the non-time dimension, but they become strategic once you take time into account.

 

(2)  You could perhaps have "formations", where what a monster does depends on its relative position within a formation.  E.g., picture three monsters in a rotatable triangle -- either one in front and two in back, or two in front and one in back.  The front one(s) perform their basic attack, and take the brunt of damage.  The back one(s) perform special abilities (buffing, debuffing, etc.).  The key decision the player faces is how and when to rotate this triangle, which changes the roles the monsters take in battle.  (You could even have the monsters auto-attack, and have the rotation being the primary decision the player makes, or choose attacks for only the front monster and have the ones in back auto-buff.)

 

Among other things, what this does is make it so that you're not just doing your strongest attack against the monster weakest to it; you have to choose only a subset of monsters to attack and the rest to give a secondary effect to the battlefield.  "This monster does a water attack, which is good against the opponent's vanguard, but earth is almost as good and I could use the water monster's secondary to negate the..."

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or combining attacks like from Chronotrigger.

Definitely look into this, not enough turn-based RPGs do this.

Another thing to look into is also another thing Chronotrigger kind-of did, and that is have the action happen on a map. Only I'd actually have the player control their monsters' positions (at a cost of part or all of a turn) for tactical advantages, to position a healthier monster between a wounded monster and an enemy, and for opportunities for space-based combos (pincer attacks, tripping enemies over eachother [delaying their turn while they recover from the fall], pushing enemies into a tight group for an area-based attack, etc). You can even make some monsters faster (more movement per turn) than others.

You can add a great deal of strategy to turn based games that most unfortunately do not take advantage of.

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