Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Noddy92

Action points or not?

Recommended Posts

Hello, 

I just have few questions. So, I'm currently designing a turn-based game, so my question relates to action point system. See I have a dilemma do I choose to implement old school action points (time units) which are calculated and distributed based on stats or do I use the one-two system like the new XCOM. I have been researching this topic, and some people say that action points are archaic, others that the new one-two system is overly simplified. What do you think, which is better in today's gaming scene?

Thanks

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement

Well, my favorite turn-based game uses AP system (Jagged Alliance II), so I'm biased here perhaps. I don't think either system is inherently better than the other. That being said, I'd say having AP gives you a more straightforward mechanism to provide flexibility in comparison to a one-two system. To give an example, in Jagged Alliance you could use extra points to aim better, or maybe save it a bit to shoot twice in the next turn, or shoot and run. Adding abilities on top of that gives a lot of possibilities to explore. I find that the one-two system streamlines things a bit, which is not inherently bad and might remove unnecessary complexity, all things considered.

 

The bottom line, for me, is this: ask yourself the reason to add AP and how much complexity it will add (and you want in your game). If it is not providing nothing really different or if its use takes a lot to learn, the one-two system is familiar to players and works well. Otherwise, AP is a great option to mix up things a bit every now and then.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I'd say that it depends on how important you want the action selection part of your game to be, and whether you want action efficiency and economy.

If you want players to be able to choose actions quickly, then the 1 - 2 system promotes this - the player can decide quickly (potentially ahead of the character's turn) what he or she wants his or her character to do.

If you want players to deliberate more about what to do, then the action point system (with varied costs for actions) supports this - it takes the player longer to calculate options, and requires more thought.

I've been working on a pen and paper rpg for a while now and had a similar issue to decide. In the end, I went with a single action per character per turn - I wanted the players to decide what they were going to early to build anticipation for the outcome, and to speed play. With multiple players this also allowed more detailed plans to be put together. For a single player team-based game, APs will put the focus on individual action, 1-2 actions will put the focus on team action.

Edited by SomeoneRichards

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great advice, but what I'm most concerned with is that the players will find action points too complicated (maybe the younger players, who didn't play Jagged Alliance 2, which is an awesome game, btw.). 

People from the posts online that I read, are complaining that they have to pull out the calculator, which is funny because I never had that problem, and the older players like the older system. Somewhere I once read that the action points, are designed because they where emulating pen and paper games, but the problem is that I don't want to bother the player with too many numbers. 

I just want a user friendly system, that doesn't burden the player, yet it is complex enough to perform a variety of actions. Basically what will most people understand including new players and the old players which already played this types of games. 

Oh, and I'm designing a game in vain of Jagged Alliance, as far combat is concerned.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

You could meet in the middle and give two unequally weighted actions. Like a big action and small action. That way different actions can be restricted to one or the other. A player can choose one big and one small action, or they could choose two small actions, or they could potentially have the option to save the smaller action to use in the following round.

This way it is quick and easy, there is some thought and usefulness is working out effective combinations, and there is a potential to carry actions over.

Alternatively, you could have three types. The small action (say for movement), the large action (say for shooting, etc) and a full action that takes the whole round (say for an aimed shot). I feel like this might be the middle ground.

Edited by SomeoneRichards

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, SomeoneRichards said:

You could meet in the middle and give two unequally weighted actions. Like a big action and small action. That way different actions can be restricted to one or the other. A player can choose one big and one small action, or they could choose two small actions, or they could potentially have the option to save the smaller action to use in the following round.

This could also work, but if you perform all your actions at once, it might not help. A variation on this could be: you have a fixed set of actions before the opposing faction can perform their actions, so you'd need to choose between many small actions or less actions with potentially higher impact. The difficult thing to adjust here is how many actions does each team get (due to number of squad members and so on), but it could be interesting anyhow.

Another positive point about this is that you can have an unified action bar and visually represent how much an action costs and how much this leaves you with. By only have 2 or 3 different costs, it becomes easy to identify how much you can do (which can be also marked in such a visual representation).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So what Richards is proposing is something similar to some sort of phase combat, if I'm understanding this correctly. The more research I do, the more I lean towards the classic action points (JA2, the original XCOM), but I'm really skeptical about this sort of hybrid system. This is one of the things I couldn't get used to RTwP (Real-time with pause). 

I'm not saying his idea is bad, I'm just being cautious, because this is the core of my game or any turn-based game, and if approached carelessly it could turn out really bad. 

Maybe if I put something like action point reserve (like in Xenonauts), that would tell the player what can be done with the remaining points. Anyway, back to my first question, which system will be more player friendly AP or one-two, are players getting lazy to calculate action points, can people enjoy my game besides the complex AP system?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Noddy92 said:

So what Richards is proposing is something similar to some sort of phase combat, if I'm understanding this correctly. The more research I do, the more I lean towards the classic action points (JA2, the original XCOM), but I'm really skeptical about this sort of hybrid system. This is one of the things I couldn't get used to RTwP (Real-time with pause). 

I don't think that is what I am suggesting, but I might not be understanding by what you mean by phases combat...

What I am suggesting is this:

At the start of a turn each character has two actions... one little, one large. This is easily indicated with a bar (as Thiago suggests). Let's say there are two small actions, move or take cover, and one large action, shoot. There is also a massive action which takes the entire turn, like take an aimed shot, or get very deeply into cover. The character can use his entire turn to complete this longer action.

Each character has three choices, they can perform one little and one large action, in whatever order they want (they can move then shoot, or shoot then move, or take cover then shoot, or shoot then take cover), they can perform two little actions (run twice, or run then take cover, or take cover then run) or they can perform one massive action (take an aimed shot, or get into deep cover).

You can use different colours to show the available actions and the cost of each action.

Once each character has used his actions his turn is over. I'm not sure where the phasic bit is coming from...

This is just a suggestion. You should, of course, choose the mechanic that suits you best. I mostly wanted to highlight that each option has different effects regarding expedience and complication, and was suggesting something in the middle.

12 minutes ago, Noddy92 said:

Anyway, back to my first question, which system will be more player friendly AP or one-two, are players getting lazy to calculate action points, can people enjoy my game besides the complex AP system?

It's not about laziness, per se. It's about feel. If someone thinks the game is going to require calculation, or quick options, they'll approach it differently. You need to decide where you want the focus to be.

Edited by SomeoneRichards

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Noddy92 said:

Maybe if I put something like action point reserve (like in Xenonauts), that would tell the player what can be done with the remaining points. Anyway, back to my first question, which system will be more player friendly AP or one-two, are players getting lazy to calculate action points, can people enjoy my game besides the complex AP system?

Hi, I think there is another reason why the one-two would feel "simpler", other than math: in a Big Action/Small action system there are only two different costs while on a AP system there can be a much wider range and this simplifies the UI/Makes it easier to remember.

There's nothing wrong with complexity as long as it adds meaningful decisions for the player, but depending on what kind of game you are aiming for you should budget it, 

Edited by Eduardo Filippi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Noddy92 said:

Anyway, back to my first question, which system will be more player friendly AP or one-two, are players getting lazy to calculate action points, can people enjoy my game besides the complex AP system?

I agree with SomeoneRichards here that it is not laziness really. In both in pen & paper and video games, I believe, there has been a shift away from certain forms of complexity. The problem with that was that, in the most egregious cases, you'd be kept away from the game in order to search something in a manual to understand what 1 out of dozens of small stats actually mean in terms of game. With more streamlined modern games, you can focus more on the gaming aspect of your game (say, which power is most efficient in a given situation instead of, If I use this item, this will give me 2 AP, which I can save, walk less and then use a powerful shot against enemy B). So, people got used to clutter-free games and need a reason to invest time on it. 

One important distinction to make is between being complex and being opaque. Your game can be mechanically simple and still provide complex strategies to reach victory. Simply having complex mechanics does not prevent the existence of only one or two viable playing options (rendering the whole thing meaningless).

 

In short, if you want to be more appealing to more people, use the one-two system. If you have a good reason for using AP (which one-two system absolutely cannot do), go for it, but bear in mind that it has more potential caveats. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

We are the game development community.

Whether you are an indie, hobbyist, AAA developer, or just trying to learn, GameDev.net is the place for you to learn, share, and connect with the games industry. Learn more About Us or sign up!

Sign me up!