Turn Based Action Selection and UI design

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Can anyone knowledgeable in turn-based combat games share their insight into how targeted actions are best implemented?

Specifically what is the best sequence of events for the selection of actions and targeting.

a.  Select target -> pick an action  -> action executes (no confirmation box)

b.  Select target -> pick an action -> action executes upon confirmation from user (via dialog, double click, or right click)

c.  Select action -> cursor changes to attack icon-> click on target- > action executes 

d.  Select action -> cursor changes to targeting icon-> click on target -> action executes upon confirmation from user (via dialog, double click, or right click)

Selecting a target first has advantages in that you can filter out invalid action icons based on the target selected. 
The user doesn't need to hover his mouse over the enemy to determine if it's attack-able.  The player only needs to cycle through each target in range (via next target or prev target buttons) once, and since there are generally less targets than actions (attack types, targeted spells, talents, etc) it's far more efficient a process.  

Selecting an action first is more akin to how games many strategy games like Panzer General work.  Once the action is selected the player can move the mouse over a target to evaluate the details of the action.

Any thoughts?  Are confirmations really all that important?

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My thoughts for whether to do a confirmation: 

  1. How often is the player going to this action?
    1. If it's going to be done repeatedly, many times, over and over, it's just going to annoy the player and slow down the game.
  2. Is the action irreversible / limited ammo / cooldown?
    1. Is this like selling a unit, or shooting the only rocket the thing has?  I think confirmations for unlikely or very important actions that have ramifications can use a warning confirmation.  (Warning: This unit will not be able to move for the next X turns after this action)
  3. Does the game have an Undo option?
    1. If we can undo, then there is no reason for a confirmation

(Weird how the number format did it's thing, sorry about that.)

Edited by ferrous

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I agree,  confirmations can really get in the way.    XCOM uses the right mouse button for some confirmations and it has' become the expected format for many modern TB games.  

I'm trying to design my game without confirmations or at the very least have it as an optional feature.       IMO, three clicks is way too much.   Anything that slows down game play in the TB game is to be avoided.  Selecting the target,  the action, and then a confirmation button is just too many clicks. 

At the moment,  I'm looking at Field of Glory 2 for some ideas.    I really like how all the action icons are displayed in context near the cursor.   When the mouse is button is clicked the action icons pivot vertically and enlarge.  At that point, you can hover over all the possible actions and evaluate the action in context with the selected target via the tool tips.   Clicking on the icon again is like a confirmation.    This is a good solution since it reduces the number clicks down to 2.   






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You shouldn't have to click an action to see if you can do it on a target. When you hover the action with your mouse, you should highlight all the possible targets for this action.

hover action > see possible targets and all stats needed right away > clicking on action > click on target

When you click on the action, it's because you already know which target you want from the information you've gotten before. No extra confirmation needed.

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I guess it depends on how complex the combat system is.   If it allows for burst attacks or multi-target attacks it's much more difficult.

Highlighting all possible targets isn't easy, especially when many of them are off screen.     In addition, a single action might work very differently against each target.     

Multi-target attacks like picking 1 to 3 enemies within an AoE is more difficult.    Of course, it all depends on how much control you want your player to have.  

There is also the problem of hitting invisible units .  For example, if you suspect there is an invisible / hidden creature in a particular square you might need to use an area attack or select the square to attack and not the creature.    

I personally don't like confirmation dialogs, but for some reason XCOM uses them extensively.   I guess play testing revealed that it was necessary. 

Edited by 00Kevin

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You could also use them subjectively.  Ie, for AoE attacks, don't bother showing a confirmation unless they are going to hit either nothing or a friendly, and warn accordingly.  And then on top of that you can always do the checkbox with "Don't show these confirmations in the future" in that same prompt.  That can mitigate it somewhat, giving things a tutorial like, hand holding feel the first time, but quickly speed up once the player has decided they don't need it anymore.  

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