Combat in crpgs

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Favorite combat system?

Pure turn based
28
88%
Semi turn based, "active" battles
3
9%
Real time
1
3%
 
Total votes: 32

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Metatron
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Combat in crpgs

Post by Metatron » August 23rd, 2006, 8:52 am

I just thought I'd get some thoughts/opinions on what features people like to see implemented in combat systems for crpgs.

What style of combat systems do you think provides the best gameplay?
Do you prefer a purely turn-based system like in Fallout or Avernum, or a real-time system ala Morrowind, or an active, but semi-turn based system of the type featured in games like Baldur's Gate, Planescape, Diablo etc?

Furthermore, what new ideas and innovations would you like to see in the future? How would you propose to make combat engines more fun, tactical and or realistic? Have you seen anything in perhaps a lesser known game that you really liked?

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Post by BasiliskWrangler » August 23rd, 2006, 9:33 am

Good Poll, Metatron! I voted Pure Turn Based.

What I've discovered is that even the term turn based has a slightly different expectation depending on who you ask. Look up turn based on Wikipedia and they point out the many variations of turn-based games mechanics that are out there. It has been implemented many different ways over the years.

Off subject, I am also surprised at how different people define Role Playing Game. I don't think any one definition is more correct than the other, but it's interesting to see how everyone has their own gaming preference that defines the genre for them.

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Post by Gallifrey » August 23rd, 2006, 10:24 am

It depends on the nature of the game, really. For a first-person perspective game, real-time makes more sense. For a party-based RPG, turn-based is the way to go. For a single-character isometric game like Eschalon, I'd actually favour a more Baldur's Gate style real time with configurable pause events.

As Wrangler points out, turn-based is often different things. I've seen some dreadful turn-based systems that render a game incredibly frustrating to play, and I've seen some very good turn-based systems.
I think the best turn-based RPG I've seen is Temple Of Elemental Evil. The combat system they implemented was fantastic. One of the things that can drag a turn-based system down is when your enemies all move seperately, in ToEE, all enemies moved at once, which really sped things up.
That said, I love the Fallout system, that was a joy to play, and still holds up now. Enemies moved seperately, but there were rarely so many that it was annoying.
For bad turn based, there was a demo for a game called Replicant's Rampage (or something like that), which was turn-based in every regard. Outside of combat you still moved on movement points, which was aggrivating to no end.
The trick for turn-based is to make it fluid, which ToEE did admirably.

The great advantage of turn-based is that it allows for a tactical approach to combat, it's not a run-in weapons-swining system (which is probably the most popular way to play a game, hence turn-based being unpopular), but a system in which you can actually apply thought and skill to a situation. If done right, that is.

As for the definition of Role Playing Game, that's a huge can of worms to crack open! These days, RPG pretty much means anything that isn't a strategy or simulation game. For me, for a game to be an RPG, it has to have:
a) a varied and chooseable by the player character development and advancement system
b) your choices must impact events, have consequences, and be reasonably varied in options for arriving at a choice
c) focus on your character's skills rather than player ability
d) make your character development and creation choices make a difference on how things play out

And of course there must be a story for all of the above to relate to.
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Post by Sanctus » August 23rd, 2006, 11:30 am

Real-Time for me(but semi-turn-based is also cool)
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Post by quasimodo » August 23rd, 2006, 7:41 pm

Turn based all the way for me. TOEE was the best Fantasy style RPG combat engine I have ever played. For tactical combat with guns, Jagged Alliance 2 is the greatest. I don't care for real time with pause like Baldur's Gate, as I don't feel I have enough control over a whole party.

I don't even try to play real time games unless they are something special like Diablo or Halflife, and even then I suck really bad at whole reflex thing.

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Post by Sanctus » August 24th, 2006, 1:27 am

Its a thing with practice...
Have you played rts's they are very good for training in real time
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Post by Metatron » August 24th, 2006, 12:09 pm

So far it seems people prefer turn based systems for these types of games.

Gallifrey, you do make a good point about the problem with each enemy/player moving in individual turns, this is one of the main frustrations with turn based combat. I am interested in playing ToEE and seeing how that system is implemented, I had previously thought of having a pure turn based system that had all the combatants move at once, but could never figure out how to implement that well.

Turn based does work fairly well when the number of combatants on screen is low, but I have seen it as the bane of many a game's combat system. Here is an example.

Take Jeff Vogel's Exile or Avernum series. In those games combat is turn based with a "battle mode" that you must enter in order to fight. When in battle mode all monster and npcs move individually.

At many points of the Exile/Avernum games, even in early parts of the game, you often end up fighting large groups of enemies. Even worse, there are many summoning spells available to enemy spellcasters, allowing them to easily conjure up around 12 minions per turn, if they are hasted, which they tend to be. A battle that could have originally had a handfull of mages/priests could easily explode into a battle with armies of summoned monsters if you could not dispatch the magic users quickly enough. It was particularly annoying in Avernum, since some enemies could cast the spell "Arcane Summon" which sometimes conjured vampires, who themselves could cast Arcane Summon and summon more vampires, or other high level monsters. I saw it get very messy sometimes, and in some more poorly done scenarios for blades of exile I saw the game limit for monsters on the area map reached more than once.

Naturally, with all those monsters on the screen, each having their own turn with several action points to burn (sometimes more if they are mass hasted), battles could get very long, even with you flinging as many crowd control spells like firestorm to thin the hordes. Sometimes there were so many enemies onscreen that the game actually suffered from significant slowdown. Taking into consideration also the fact that you only control six to four characters, the time YOU actually spend FIGHTING is rather short.

Games like Baldur's Gate alleviate this fairly well with the real-time-with-pauses method, but BG has its own problems. Having groups of monsters respawn every time you load from a saved game is very irritating; by the time I escaped the Gnoll fortress it seemed like I had killed hundreds of Gnolls... One thing that I liked about Fallout and the Geneforge games is that monsters don't typically respawn after you kill them, or if they do they come from a "spawner" that can also be killed. This may hurt the character by not providing a consistent source of loot and xp, but it is much less annoying and a little more realistic.

Another problem with real time and semi real time systems is that they generally require several frames of animation to look good, which can be taxing on an indie developer. The whole "lets stand next to each other and repeatedly swing our swords" thing has always looked a little wierd to me also.

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Post by Gallifrey » August 24th, 2006, 3:49 pm

Metatron wrote:Gallifrey, you do make a good point about the problem with each enemy/player moving in individual turns, this is one of the main frustrations with turn based combat. I am interested in playing ToEE and seeing how that system is implemented, I had previously thought of having a pure turn based system that had all the combatants move at once, but could never figure out how to implement that well.
ToEE is not a great game; it lacks story and character motivation, but as a DnD combat sim, it's unsurpassed. You have the full range of tactical options the game rules provide for, so with a party of characters you can do some pretty neat things, and have a great range of combat options open to you. On an aesthetic level it's excellent - nice graphics, sound, music, animations. As an RPG there's a lot to be desired, but worth playing.
Games like Baldur's Gate alleviate this fairly well with the real-time-with-pauses method, but BG has its own problems.
In terms of gameplay, I like the style of the Infinity Engine games, you have full control over when the game pauses so a person can play as quickly or slowly as they wish. The problem with that style of game is that it's still not turn-based in the sense that you can tactically plan and use movement points, or turn your opponent's movement options against them. Still, it's a equitable middle-ground.
And yeah, respawning enemies are tedious.
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Post by Svend Karlson » August 26th, 2006, 7:45 pm

quasimodo wrote:Turn based all the way for me. TOEE was the best Fantasy style RPG combat engine I have ever played. .
Pure turn based for me too.

My favourite recent cRPG combat was also found in Temple of Elemental Evil. Good old school examples would be Betrayal at Krondor & Disciples of Steel.

I found the combat in Baldurs Gate et all okay, but not suited to my preference. I found myself pausing & clicking, then pausing & clicking again & again & never felt fully in control.

I experienced the worst combat ever in an RPG playing Ultima 7 (which I still rate as one of the best cRPGs I've played)

I do wonder whether the WEGO system used in games like Combat Mission could be imported to an RPG (you plan your moves along with your opponent & then have an execution phase, then you plan again). Actually let me saythat I would liketo see this system used in an RPG, I believe it could work.

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Post by GSV3MiaC » June 14th, 2007, 4:59 pm

Turn based for me too. I prefer chess (which is what turn based turns into) rather than the click-fest of most modern games (G3 being particularly ghastly).

TOEE did indeed have good combat. Shame about the non-story (and the bugs). As to the Avernum games (which I beta tested) yes, Vampires summoning other vampires could get out of hand .. hence the need for intelligence (run away, come back later!), or very selective playing. Heck the first thing I (we all!) learned back in 'Pools of Radiance' was surely 'take out the damn spell casters FIRST'.

If you can't do that then Chaos spells (dominate, whatever) which get the summoned creatures working for you. Love it when a vampire summons 5 vampires which, next round, are all beating on him for you. Or silenced. 8>.

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Post by Metatron » June 14th, 2007, 5:40 pm

The prevailing consensus seems to be for turn-based, which I suppose should not be surprising on a forum for a turn based game. :wink:
Heck the first thing I (we all!) learned back in 'Pools of Radiance' was surely 'take out the damn spell casters FIRST'
Indeed. This could get tricky in BOA and especially in BOE, due to the fact that spellcasters often have a variety of powerful shielding spells at their disposal and were almost always immune to my own fireballs. And yes, I was quite fond of the mass paralysis and confusion spells.

I have played TOEE and find its combat to be very interesting. There are some good basic mechanics there. I have yet to drag myself through the whole game, however, due to a storyline that completely fails to motivate or immerse. I suppose I was warned.

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Post by Tauschitz » June 15th, 2007, 10:23 am

No question about it: turn-based all the way. TOEE was just outstandingly done on the combat side of the house.

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Post by Gothmog » June 15th, 2007, 10:44 am

Hehehe....Pure Turn Based for me too!
ToEE is one of my turn based classics. Perfectly made like Gallifrey said.

The most fun i had with the Fallout combat-system. It matches perfectly with the story and the environment and so it makes a perfect game.

Jagged Alliance is the third in my list of my all-times turn-based favorites!
Great Combat and the idea to slow down the bullet to see the flightpath..great game.

TURN BASED RULES!!!


(Cant write more...have to make just another turn in GalCivII)!!!
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Post by Fleisch » June 15th, 2007, 11:40 am

Jagged Alliance is the third in my list of my all-times turn-based favorites!
Great Combat and the idea to slow down the bullet to see the flightpath..great game.
Oh yes, I'd forgotten that -- one of the many great things about Jagged Alliance! Plus the called shots, although you could do that in Fallout too.

I also have a fondness for the old Darklands/Realms of Arkania grid-based fight, and I think I read somewhere among the questions/observations here that you could turn on an underlying grid for the combat, to help position yourself. That in turn reminds me of the grid-based fights in Betrayal at Krondor, where you sometimes had traps on the battlefield -- you could lure your opponents in, or get trapped yourself, or get bogged down maneuvering while your wounded foes escaped with their booty.

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Post by Gothmog » June 15th, 2007, 12:04 pm

That in turn reminds me of the grid-based fights in Betrayal at Krondor, where you sometimes had traps on the battlefield -- you could lure your opponents in, or get trapped yourself, or get bogged down maneuvering while your wounded foes escaped with their booty.
Yep Fleisch. Thats exactly those moments in great Turn-Based Games you will always remember. And you find such moments very rarely in real-time combat!! :D
I love those moments in Turn-Based!
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