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Discussion about RPG combat systems

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Saravan, Jul 11, 2019.

  1. Saravan Literate

    Saravan
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    So this is strictly regarding video games and not table-top combat systems for RPG:s.

    Most discussions regarding RPG combat systems for video games seem to fall under RtwP or TB combat systems. The former attempting to strike a fair balance between dynamic (action oriented) style of combat rewarding reflexes and quick tactical thinking with strategic planning for encounters. The latter, TB combat system puts all its focus on tactical and strategical thinking as you are not required to think quickly in encounters (unless there is a turn timer).

    I think both of these combat systems are good when implemented well and the game design takes into account one type of combat system from the ground-up rather than trying to provide options for both styles as typically a game would suffer from that. A typical example is if a game is originally designed for RtwP (like for example PoE 2) but then introduces TB as an option. The problem you often get there is that the game includes so many trivial encounters "trash mobs" that the TB option becomes cumbersome for the player. The pace of the game is often simply too slow to properly accommodate TB combat system.

    Another issue is that sometimes certain stats become obsolete in a TB system originally crafted for RtwP. Once more, taking PoE 2 as an example, there is no need to care about dexterity in a TB combat system, aside from covering more distance in the movement phase, as everyone can only perform one or two actions per turn anyways whilst in RtwP an increase in dexterity increases action speed and therefore you can more quickly perform your actions in real time.

    An alternative to the above two systems is something inspired by the combat system of the Dark Souls series but with a larger emphasizes on the abilities, stats and other skills of the character in order to strike a fair and interesting balance between the strengths in a "traditional cRPG" with dynamic combat flow of Dark Souls. To me, if such a system is done well, would be the most engaging and entertaining RPG combat out of them all.

    To further clarify, a Dark Souls inspired combat system rewards players who are reactive to their environments and are able to dodge and attack when the opportunity presents itself in the game. This of course immediately comes into conflict with the RtwP/TB combat systems that don't allow you, as a player, to physically dodge attacks but instead calculate these sort of combat events through defensive stats such as armor, resistance, evasion, etc. The RtwP/TB system naturally therefore provides larger complexity to the character build because if all of those stats are simply negated to reward a dodge performed solely by the "player skill" rather than the "character skill", then those stats become obsolete. Dark Souls tries to circumvent this issue by stating that if you wear more heavier gear, you dodge slower or at less distance (e.g. "fat rolls") but in return your armor is higher so if you do get hit you take less damage. The issue with Dark Souls however is that, from my experience, almost always is it better to ensure you can dodge more effectively and not take any damage in the first place.

    But what if you maintain the action-oriented combat style of Dark Souls but still try to maintain the relevance of all those different statistics that makes up for a deep combat system typically found in good RtwP and/or TB RPG:s? For example - if you do get hit by an attack - it still takes into account all of those different types of defensive stats to determine the damage done? Could you further extend this to class builds, items and stats taking a larger role in the outcome of battles, whilst still having that entertaining Dark Souls type of combat? Can you go even further and include archetypical RPG roles for combat such as tanks, healers and damage dealers whilst still having that action oriented style of combat in a video game?

    Would this make for an interesting and deep RPG combat system or do you simply have to settle for one or the other?


    TL: DR version - A better alternative to RtwP and TB combat systems for an RPG would be a Dark Souls-inspired combat system but with more emphasis on character class build, stats, abilities, skills and items that make up the traditional RPG combat. Do you agree or are there flaws to this option?
     
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  2. Egosphere Erudite

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    Dark Souls is an action game. Its combat depends 100% on your skill level. You can beat the game wearing no armour, and with a primitive weapon, if you're good enough. Everything that the game throws your way is simply a leg up to get through the combat faster whilst being more lenient regarding the punishment you can take. This goes against the cRPG genre, where traditionally your character's numerically determined abilities would be the deciding factor in any encounter. It also goes against character generation. Soulsborne is fun, but it's fun because of the world, the exploration, the lore etc. not the character generation at the start.

    Overhauling tb combat to become faster and designing better encounters is the answer, not throwing the genre out of the window in favour of action games.
     
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  3. Grampy_Bone Magister

    Grampy_Bone
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    Such a bold topic for a new user somebody's alt.

    :avatard:
     
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  4. Darth Canoli Arbiter

    Darth Canoli
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    What Egosphere said.

    I'll add, if you want to improve the RTwP system, it's not difficult, just look at the action with pause KotOR system, it's dynamic, you can manage your party and it's actually fun ...

    If you want to improve the combat system of a cRPG, though, TB system such as the best blobbers systems (M&M 3-8 / Wizardry 8), KotC for the old school ones or an improvement of the ToEE engine is the way.
    Wasteland 2 almost had something that could have been a reference too, if not for their camera views, they really had it.
     
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  5. Saravan Literate

    Saravan
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    You make a good point, do you have any examples on how to overhaul or change TB combat to be better? What sort of game mechanics would you implement?

    Haha I'm new I ended up here by accident looking for PKM builds. Started reading some more threads and found them interesting. I think this is a good forum to learn about RPG:s from experienced players even with some really crazy people posting sometimes.
     
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  6. Lyric Suite Converting to Islam

    Lyric Suite
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    Well, you just saved me the time to write the exact same thing.
     
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  7. octavius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    octavius
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    For me the main combat systems are not TB and RTwP, but abstract combat (like in blobbers) vs top down or isometric style (be it TB or RTwP).
     
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  8. Neanderthal Arcane

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    Severance: Blade of Darkness.
     
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  9. J1M Arcane

    J1M
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    Saravan, Mario RPG did this a long time ago. I assume the recent entries have continued the tradition.

    The combat is basically a turn-based JRPG, but if you send button input with the right timing you will dodge an incoming attack or deal extra damage.

    Invoking Dark Souls is not a good way to convey your point. The heart of the idea is to layer some quick time events on top of a traditional RPG combat system. I don't say that to be dismissive. QTEs can be fun in the right context. (Mass Effect renegade interrupts, Arkham Batman counterattacks)
     
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  10. PsychoFox Educated

    PsychoFox
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    All systems have a place in the genre: RTwP, TB, Action real time etc.

    The worse thing to do would be to stop making one type altogether in favor of another. They each have pros and cons. I for one, do not want to see every game become a tactical TB game despite how much i enjoy that kind of gameplay.
     
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  11. deama Arbiter

    deama
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    There's Xenogears that combines QTEs/action and turn based, basically you select to attack and then you have to input a combo and depending on what combo you use, it can execute a special move. System was ok, I don't think my opinion will be valid though as I speedhacked that one by like 2x because it was too slow in vanilla.

    I aggree in that we should focus on improving TB instead as I think it's the best option we have now, diamond in the rough, that sort of thing; though there have been good TB impelementations, I enjoyed DOS1 (none enhanced edition) combat a lot.
    There's also Toribash which has ain interesting TB-action mix:
    Show Spoiler

    too bad no one has tried to port it over to a decent RPG yet.
     
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  12. Saravan Literate

    Saravan
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    Thank you for all the inputs. Been interesting to hear your thoughts. I just want to clarify that I don't want to see one particular combat system be designed for all RPG:s but rather see if it's possible to bring the best of both "styles" I described in my original post into one, perhaps new or existing, combat system.

    My example with Dark Souls was to simply reference a game to describe a more action oriented combat system, it's easier than me trying to explain it myself.

    For encounter design, how would one fit that to work best with RtwP or TB respectively? Would there be a difference required for these two systems?
     
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  13. octavius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    octavius
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    Depends on how quick the TB system is and if there's auto-combat option.
    The slower the combat, the better the encounter design needs to be. Nothing more boring than facing the same 20 skeletons over and over in a Ultima IV combat system, for example.
     
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  14. ProphetSword Arcane

    ProphetSword
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    In a perfect world, all games would be TB and RtwP with a button allowing the player to switch between the two. Then, everyone would be happy all the time, forever and ever and no one on the Codex would have a reason to bitch about anything. (Guarantee not guaranteed, void where prohibited).
     
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  15. DJOGamer PT Magister

    DJOGamer PT
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    It's pretty simple really.
    If the game has the player control multiple PC's, then make it Turn Based - either isometric or more abstract, like Blobbers and classic jRPG's.
    If the player only has to control one PC, make it Real Time - preferably the Action based kind and not isometric.
    Burn RTwP with Hellfire and anyone who thinks it's a good system.

    If you do it Action based, then do it like Severance and NIOH in regards to melee combat. Specially in it comes to the Character Progression Systems. Has your character upgrades his melee combat related skills, instead of gaining extra damage or higher chance of doing X effect, you gain new moves and combos you can pull off.
     
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  16. sullynathan Magister

    sullynathan
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    Specificially, tell me what is great about Severance's combat system and why would it be brought up in a discussion of rpg combat systems when it's barely an rpg and other, better games, have surpassed it with their superior combat systems?
     
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  17. rusty_shackleford Arcane

    rusty_shackleford
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    it is a fact that witcher 1 has the best RPG combat system
     
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  18. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

    ERYFKRAD
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    Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Dark souls is not superior.
     
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  19. sullynathan Magister

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    It is, but it isn't what I had in mind or even the only one.
     
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  20. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

    ERYFKRAD
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    Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Nope
     
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  21. HeatEXTEND Cipher

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    That's on the devs, not the system.
     
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  22. Saravan Literate

    Saravan
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    Yeah that's a fair point. To clarify, I brought it up as an example of a design problem that might occur when developers try to please two different combat systems in order to appeal to a wider audience. This often leads to issues for one of the systems since the encounters are still being designed with only one system in mind - or worse - a compromise that doesn't work for neither of them. I wonder if it's possible to design encounters that would work well for both systems in one game or are they inherently at odds with each other? Typically RtwP can afford more frequent encounters with larger numbers compared to TB which has to take more into account the pacing of the encounters.
     
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  23. J1M Arcane

    J1M
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    There is a tactical puzzle game on steam called Grimante that implements a number of ideas for turn-based combat that I have been looking to see for a while.

    In particular, characters having very orthogonal capabilities, a limited number of skills for each character, the chance to feel clever by using skills in concert to produce bonus actions, and fast input resolution.

    Most turn-based combat today is like a bad imitation of an old RPG. There are a lot of features that exist because the developers saw them in other games, but the combat really boils down to waiting until the characters with better stats win. The decision-space is smaller than the impact of the raw numbers.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2019
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  24. smaug Savant Patron

    smaug
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    Turn-based or nothing.
     
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  25. DJOGamer PT Magister

    DJOGamer PT
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    Learn to read.
    I said when it comes to Action combats for RPG's and what the melee combat related skills should improve, BoD and Nioh are the best way to go - as your characters skill improves, the player unlocks new moves to execute.

    Also yes Severance's combat is better than Dark Souls combat.
    I've said it many times, there's nothing wrong with DS combat but also there isn't anything amazing about it. Because again, the combat is not the main focus of those games. The level design, the athmosphere, the world building, the journey so to speak is what the game truly excels at because that's what they were more concerned with.

    BoD on the other hand is entirely about the combat.
    Every weapon is different from each other, even when they are of the same type. Each character has a vastly different but still well though out playstyle.
    The difference between the way you execute your moves in BoD and DS, is a very good example of not only how different those games are but also why DS combat isn't really that good to be considered one of the best.
    In one game, you only have the choice between pressing two buttons - one executes a fast and light attack, the other a slow but powerful attack. It's practical and functional for sure, but lacks variety and doesn't add a whole lot of challenge making it not near as enganging - the fact that all weapons of the same type will execute the same animations/moves doesn't help in any regard. The other however, you have to constantly assess your current situation to determine the best move. Might not be as simple to pick as the previous game, but when you become adept in with, it becomes a far more fun and engaging to play, as well as possing more depth to it. Severance's combat gives you that dance feel that any good melee action combat should give you, and it undoubtedly has a higher skill ceiling than DS (another important aspect that any Action game should have).
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2019
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