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Turn-based multiplayer combat

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Purpose of the topic:  get a feedback on the turned based combat sketch- synchronization, get interested heads together, forsee the problems, propose improvements, specific application tweaking etc. 


Requirements on the combat system: 

- first person perspective, potentially 3rd

- more engaging multiplayer for turn based combat (waiting till faster PCs finish seems frustrating for MP)

- big difference in player characters speed should be covered (Shadowrun PnP- 1 action VS 2-3 actions for super fast PCs per turn)

- allow players gameplay less based on reflexes and with blend of tactics as usual for turned based combat.


Combat system's synchronization sketch:

Gameplay before combat starts is real time where PCs act with basically same speed (Jagged Aliance 2).

When combat emerges initiative mode is entered. Suppose Player Characters can have initiative 0- 30 with strong dependency on atributes, cyberware and scenario (RNG, surprise etc.).

In intiative mode capsule around engaged PCs is created (distance, entaggled players outside, other rules) as a visible barrier. Shooting into it is possible but bullets slows (based on internal capsule's pacing) when entering the capsule, also there is potential for capsule's expansion and drag the attacker into turned based combat.


At the beggining of the combat each player is informed and vision is temporarily frozen.

- Players decision now to choose PROACTIVE or REACTIVE mode.



- player is dictating pace basically. From the frozen view baseline player starts his action plan based on current state and his prediction what is going to happen. Instead of seeing the other players moving real time he or she sees growing cloud of uncertainty of position of other PCs untill display darkens for the planing whole turn. As uncerntainty grows with time when planning from known state it is not effective doing too long predictive actions. Planning gameplay is similar to real time, but instead seeing others PCs moving there is cloud surroundig each other PC growing. Player needs to predict reactions which can also mean shooting into empty space where target's evasive action is expected. Length of interval is voluntary based on shortest PROACTIVE PC with some hardcoded minimum. When "plan" is done proactive player confirms and waits for the EVALUATION where he/she can be knocked out of his plan (killed, knocked down, disarmed etc.).

Note: Proactive player can be either limited in speed of his actions (standard time for an action), or volatile timing- when going faster then normal pacing penalty on skill checks is taken (thus speed can be also achieved with high skill neglecting the penalties).



- player indicates to whom he/she wants to react and waits until EVALUATION. When evaluation starts PROACTIVE player characters start unwinding the plan given by the players. REACTIVE players are seeing the action and are provided by action points- basically speed of movement they can move relative to PROACTIVE player characters. Negligible lag or speed penalty should be given to REACTIVE players in order to maintain realism and/or game balance. Ideally speed of player characters is compared and action points are mapped to REACTIVE player, if he/she wants to move faster then standard actions more lag he/she gets before his move happens (at faster rate though). So fast moving PROACTIVE PCs can be caught (imagine you have fraction of speed to them).


This way even slower player characters should be given chance to outwit or knocked out faster player characters of their actions.

Thanks for reading up till here ;-). 





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This game could work but my gut reaction is that it will be too slow paced to keep players engaged. Turn based games usually rely on a player managing many different characters and having total control over a single faction. This does two things. It allows the player to coordinate all units in a faction. This allows the player to strategize and gives the game depth. The second thing is making the game more challenging trying to manage and keep track of many things at once. This makes the game challenging and without challenge players will get bored.

Trying to coordinate players would really only work well in high levels of play. At lower levels players aren't as good and will make mistakes or will intentionally troll their team. It would be hard for players to come up with a strategy working separately. To be effective, they would need to be coordinated by one person calling the shots and everybody else executing them. If done poorly it would basically be one person playing the game and everybody else following orders and could be very boring for those following orders. This would move all the challenge from trying to coordinate your units to trying to coordinate with others which may end up feeling like a frustrating escort quest.

You may be able to make this idea work but you should make a simple prototype to play test it to, 1) see if my gut feel are actually going to be problems/find other problems with the idea and 2) try to come up with solutions to the problems.

A few ideas to fix the potential problems I listed is to give many actions a player can perform on their turn increasing mechanical depth and making it more challenging. Choices may include healing yourself, healing an ally, charging a powerful shot, using a gun turret, repairing a gun turret, sending in a spy drone to locate enemies, planting land mines, putting up a barrier, and so on. You need to tune the complexity so the game is challenging enough to keep players engaged.


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I wouldn't even consider the suggested system to be turn-based; it's a complex addition to realtime combat, with changes that slow it down, potential troublesome special cases, and unnecessary limitations. There are much more straightforward ways to make players act quickly in a proper turn-based system.

For example: characters could have "action points" that replenish over time, actions cost action points, and every turn the players can choose multiple actions (in sequence or simultaneous), and prepared reactions, without spending more action points that they have available. After everyone has chosen moves, all are executed in sequence and/or simultaneously and another turn begins. This framework would allow agile characters to perform more actions if they can afford them, quick characters to recover more action points, proficient characters to spend less action points than normal for actions, and different buffs and bonuses to affect the different sides of speed independently.

You can force players to act quickly by simply assigning some default action (usually no action and/or repeating the actions of the previous turn) if the player doesn't select a move before a rather tight timeout. The timeout could be the longer between several limits:

  • a multiple of the greatest possible number of actions and choices (i.e. more time for more things to do)
  • a short but generous fixed time span (enough to see animations, read the screen, etc.)
  • whatever time the second slowest or median player took to act plus a fixed time (i.e. if all players are AFK or thinking very hard let them take their time, but rush the slow ones)

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When everything goes wrong, when helpless, it's time to call him, the legend one and only MEN unbound from spacetime itself,  SPACECOWBOY:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhQ5Datakbo

Now seriously thank you for the feedback, I had to share that that gem of music...



1. Not enough challenge for the players

I am all for depth and complexity. Maybe it should be placed  among combat system requirements, because it was ment to be like that.

There should be both variety of actions and execution of each action under control. 


PROACTIVE should be gained with extra frames for succesful longer actions, placing right amount of time/effort into each desired action would be important.

REACTIVE should be able to pull-off counter techniques- gaining situational awareness quickly will be essential.


2. Synchronization of the team

Yes, may..be REACTIVE players should be able to see plan making of their own {team}  PROACTIVE players.

And same among the PROACTIVEs of the team.


Synchronization among REACTIVE players

The idea is each Player Char will be able act at the same speed for the player (maybe can be global- based on the level of play)  but the speed of background would be different (based on char. initiative comparison).


A: Each REACTIVE player during real-time evaluation chases his own copy of target. For slower PC the copy will be moving faster and will reach end of their potential plan sooner- thus less time for REACTIVE player to act. Problem in propagating aftermath from faster players to slower players (ending  real time turn sooner).


B: Slower REACTIVE players have to wait till faster uses enough "action points" so they are on par with actions left.

C Downscaling the speed of slower REACT chars against fastest REACT char- against the idea of constant character speed at players hands (and rescaled background)- but maybe OK

D Combination of waiting (slow reaction roll or ability) and speed rescaling. 

Note: Evaluation was always ment to be life for REACTIVE players with rescaled timing etc. 


 3. Perhaps not enough smooth play, felt overconstrained (frustrating escort quest)

Probably a protype only can give definite answer...


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On 4/17/2019 at 10:44 AM, LorenzoGatti said:

You can force players to act quickly

Thank you for the comment and proposal.

That frustration mentioned is not only from time having to wait- but also gives faster characters too much of an advantage. In reality both slower and faster character acts at the same time. And thing is some actions are kryptonite to the others and even slower character can succeed. Imagine toothpate lid drops you into water basin- starts spining around at speed yet you can catch it by putting your hand at relatively slow pace on to the outlet... 

I would definitely like to try your proposal as a game, but that hard gating on actions is something I personally do not like - rather see continually losing- by not acting...

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