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Zaptrudr

Battle system for SNES style RPGs.

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The concept of action points in a turn based environment has always struck me as a pretty good idea, but why is it that we''ve seen so few RPGs use it? Especially RPGs on more limited systems like the SNES or more currently, the GBA? It seems like you could offer a similar but superior system in games like Final Fantasy, just by doing this little switch. But wait a moment... doesn''t it change the general feel of the game immensely? Depending on how the interface is designed, the combat could range from slow to just tedious. How would you go about rectifying this problem? Creating a fast paced but detailed combat system involving action points (of some kind). Personally, I would keep in mind I would want to design for something like the GBA, so I''d want to keep the execution and interface rather simple, instead of bogging the player down in too many menus. Because actions are executed with button presses rather then numerical input or mouse commands, you''d want to limit the number of action points involved... say less then 10 typically. given the 10 action points, you''re character still has to do a number of things, like moving and attacking. Well, pretty much only those two things. But with action points, you acquire increased flexibility to give the player more attacks or more movement. Keeping that in mind, I would use action points in accessing items and using them, attacking, movement, magic/skills and defense. Fairly simple. I''d also give players the chance to affect initiative by using action points. The former four will be active and can be used in any combination (the magic/skill system would be limited by more then just action points) while the latter would be prompted upon after the player confirms he doesn''t wish to do anything else. The initiative comment can be used at the beginning of the general round (before the start of any one''s turn) so players can either deliver the killing blow immediately, or delay their action so that they can assess the situation better. The character would have a base initiative which this modifier would be worked off. To balance ranged and distanced combat, typically ranged weapons take a larger amount of action points to use (to aim properly and to fire) then melee combat. Also, cover can be employed along with line of sight, as best fits a tile/grid system. Each bit of combat would generally be slower then your traditional FF system however. So to compensate, battles are fewer, but the energy of the battles is greater (so indeed the focus becomes on the battles, rather then the rewards they give) so as to not bore the player. Energy can be achieved through good interface design, as well as suitable graphics (multiple and cool attack animations would be better then say, a sprite swinging his sword down repeatedly). In combination with a decent story and decent design in the rest of the game, and surely such a game would have an edge over games that involves almost arbitary battles, and often too simplistic and lack lustre combat systems (not that they can''t be done right). Zaptruder

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Wow, this reminds me of an idea I posted up a while ago (back when I was a GDnet newbie, *sigh*)

The system I propose is that each character has a certain number of "action orbs" (you suggested ten, but I think it should depend on the character). This is analogous to a point-based system, but I find that little icons are more intuitive for players than numbers.

So stealing a little bit of the ATB system from FF*, each character gains one action orb every so often (depending on their speed, status, etc.).

When the player decides to use an ability, he/she chooses a character, and an ability menu comes up, and for each item chosen, a certain number of the available action orbs for that player are shaded (the number of orbs required).

e.g.
- Moving one grid-square costs one orb
- Drinking a potion costs one orb
- Basic Slash with a sword costs two orbs
- Invoking a magical item costs two orbs
- casting a fireball costs three orbs
- Summoning a dragon costs seven orbs
- Performing a Bushido Succession Technique requires ten orbs

This makes it possible to horde up orbs on a particular character in the hopes of using them to perform an incredible feat, and then if the need arises, the character can expend all quickly to do many small attacks, or two/three medium attacks.

George D. Filiotis
Are you in support of the ban of Dihydrogen Monoxide? You should be!

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that sounds pretty nifty... i like combat systems that attempt to be more realistic, and therefore tactical.
if you do allow characters to "hoard up" orbs or points or whatever, though, they should have a maximum (so the 1 - 10 orbs represents readiness to do something, and the time it takes to accomplish that act)... that is, they can''t hang back during a long battle and then suddenly cast seven "absolute death fireballs" in a row. once they are "full" so to speak, if they don''t use them up they are just wasting time.
JMHO.

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My thought was that you should have a base maximum number of orbs (no arbitrary value btw, this should be a character dependent value), and if the character somehow manages to reach that maximum, as long as he/she doesn''t do ANYTHING (including movement) he/she could still gain orbs at half speed. The catch is that as soon as any ability is used, at least the number of overhead orbs is used to perform it. So this can allow a character to remain at maximum charge while occasionally performing a mundane action so that he/she is always ready to unleash his/her mega-move.

This is a representation of battle meditation. For certain ultimately powerful abilities it should be necessary as well (max = 10, required number of orbs for ultimate ability is 12).

George D. Filiotis
Are you in support of the ban of Dihydrogen Monoxide? You should be!

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This sounds alot like Chrono Cross. It''s been a long time since I played it, but the ATB system was totally thrown out. Instead, the character developed "action points" as the battle progressed. And you got more points if you defended. Then, when u wanna attack, you''ve got 3 levels: weak (costs 1 point), medium (2 points), and hard (3). Of course hard was the most damaging, but hard was also the least accurate. Also, when it was your turn, as long as you had battle points, you could do whatever u wanted. Which meant you could make combos. After landing an attack, your accuracy increased, which made it quite efficient to use the weak-medium-hard combo. Or if you naturally had alot of accuracy, you could use a medium-hard-hard combo. Also, magic was cool, too. The spells were of a certain level. Level 1 spells cost 1 point. Level 2 spells cost 2 points and so on. And of course the higher the level, the more powerful it''s gonna be. The cool summons and the massive eye-candy techs cost 8 action points if i remember correctly. And I believe 8 was the maximum number of points you could store up. Also, to prevent techs from being fired off one after the other after the other like someone mentioned, you could only use each tech you had equipped once per battle (I think you were allowed to equip multiple copies of the tech to use it more than once, but once it was used up, it was used up).

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Check out the Fallout RPG series. It uses action points for combat. Very nice system, the games are cheap to buy now too. The number of action points you had depended on attributes, traits, bonuses, etc.

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Check out Septerra Core. It combined an action point idea with that of a more traditional Final Fantasy type time bar(you could do some actions when 1/3rd full, others at 2/3rds, and all at full). You couldn''t move, though, which kinda sucked when you''ve got a laser that damages all on a line and can only get one unit at a time.

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The creepy thing is that even tho I didn''t state it, I was thinking about the use of orbs as the graphical representation of Action Points as well.



But it shouldn''t be suprising, Its hardly a new idea - indeed, many other games have used action points in a turn based system before, starting with Jagged Alliance/X-Com Enemy Unknown.

However, to make it for a console RPG, you''d require some balancing. It''d have to be simplistic but satisfying at the same time...

And 10 seems like an arbitary number, mainly because it is... but of course I don''t mean it as a set number... just a base figure to go by.

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If you want it to be semi-realtime (i.e., how fast a character gets another turn depends on his/her/its speed stat), look to Chrono Trigger as a great example. Battles in CT are almost never boring, even when you''re backtracking and running into enemies you already ahnilated (sp?) when you were 15 levels lower. If you want a very bad example, steal (or buy, if you''re foolish) a PC game called Septerra Core. It had an interesting story, but the quasi-turn-based battles were so slow! If only the programmers had made turns regenerate faster....

---------------------------------
"It''s groin-grabbingly transcendent!" - Mr. Gamble, my teacher, speaking of his C++ AP class

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What about a system like in Max Payne, where you have bullet time that can slow down time for a little bit. The purpose would be different here - to allow you to get at hard to pull off spells or complicated weapon moves, but it woudl force the game to keep moving along, while letting the player do what he needs to.

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