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RPG Combat System...

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Feargus Urquhart, Jan 16, 2004.

  1. Feargus Urquhart Obsidian Entertainment Developer

    Feargus Urquhart
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    I really don't want to add 400 caveats to this, but I think I need to add just one. My question is going to be just about combat - it is not about how much a role combat plays in the game or how non-linear or linear the game is going to be.

    So, the question is - in all of your minds does combat have to be TB to be game that you all like? I've been thinking a lot about game that we are going to make and maybe some small games that we'll make and publish ourselves and I'm trying to figure out what makes the most sense from a combat perspective. There two follow up questions to that, which are is there a form of real-time combat you guys are fine with and what are your opinions of single player w/followers/henchmen vs a fully controlled party? I know that someone depends on the game itself, but I'm curious.
     
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  2. chrisbeddoes Erudite

    chrisbeddoes
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    First of all i love turn based combat.
    Now if it is real time also i do not mind BUT both combat systems have to be perfectly balanced.
    Because if one way of play is much easier than the other then you are practically forcing a player to switch to that mod.

    Because balancing both turn based and real time system is i believe impossible let me suggest 2 options.


    First : As a compromise to make turn based combat an ability of the player that the player would want to use in the tough battles.


    That way you could put a big sticker in the box REAL TIME COMBAT but also allow strategical thinking that makes the non casual players so much happy.

    So turn based could make the battles much easier but it should have reqs something like stats or need a certain point in skill say skill over x% or be a finite resource like bullet time that you could use only in the tough battles or need the consumption of rare items

    Second : Choose between real time or turn based in the start of the game and do NOT allow players to switch between turn based and real time in the middle of the game. Also give some bonus to the real time player and more importantly in the real time version make the stat that gives you more time in the turn based version like say dexterity disappear. In the real time version all dexterity tests and speed plus reaction time should depended on the player pressing some particular combination of keys real fast. It should be the same for stealing too. But this will requires much more work from your testers and RAISE the cost of making the game. However this would be perfect for both casual and non casual players.


    Chris.
     
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  3. Volourn Pretty Princess Pretty Princess

    Volourn
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    I personally prefer single player controlled with follows/henchmen controlled by AI(as smart as possible of course) ala FO and NWN. I don't mind games that allow you to control multiple characters; but they most definitely lose a role-playing edge for me when having a multi headed monster.

    I'm not picky about combat as I like both tb combat and rt combat with pause to give you time to plan tatics if neccessary. The more options in combat the better ala TOEE (espicially this one if at all possible) or to a lesser degree NWN. Finally, the game's combat has to be challenging or combat just won't be fun and I'll quickly grow bored of it.

    That is all. :twisted:
     
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  4. chrisbeddoes Erudite

    chrisbeddoes
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    what are your opinions of single player w/followers/henchmen vs a fully controlled party?


    Instead of asking this to this forums ask this question to each and everyone that is going to buy the game.

    Make it 3 difficulty options.

    In the easy option you have a fully controlled party.

    In the medium version there is a stat like charisma that allows you to fully control more and more followers as the stat gets higher.

    In the hard version everybody does what he likes and you only control yourself.



    Another 2 cents worth idea is that a henchman would become a fully controlled party member if you completed some quests for them.

    Like

    a) You marry them . b) You save their son life . c) You save their life. Something very important that would make completely trust you with their lives.

    Or the evil version you trick them . Or you find their ancestral green amulet for them and then you fool them into wearing it . From that moment you have total mind control over them.Or someone ask for your help and you refuse it. If you gave help he would join you as henchman. But now he had no help and he became a slave. He now has weaker stats because of his hardship as a slave but now if you buy him from his master and you will do that because you are the evil guy you will now have full control over him because he is your slave and a punishment worse than death awaits the slave that disobeys his master .
     
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  5. taks Liturgist

    taks
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    you're going to see a lot of this feargus...

    i like both, quite frankly. very hard to pick one over the other. however, TB games tend to have much less content simply because you can't have your players spending 400 hours on a single game. they'll never make it to the sequel :) just think what would have happened with BG2 and TB combat. we'd still be playing.

    chris' idea for TB option for large battles, say 4 or more critters, is kinda cool. let 'em do RT with pause or somesuch below that. when a nasty "battle" comes up, head into TB mode similar to toee. assuming there aren't too many of those battles in a game, it would be reasonably manageable. in such a method, these larger battles would be scripted apriori based on TB concepts (quite different than RT with pause i would imagine) so balancing wouldn't turn into "how do we handle both" because one situation handles RT and the other TB...

    i'm not sure about "pick your path," however, mostly because i can't imagine a way for you to economically balance BOTH methods separately. i think the AI scripting would be too complex (it certainly would have to differ for balance reasons).

    of course, as well, this has been the most heated of discussions for as long as i've been reading crpg fora. i do not envy your task...

    mark
     
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  6. Anonymous Guest

    Anonymous
    I personally love multi-character heavy tactic turn-based, like ToEE and Silent Storm. I like strategising while still playing a fun RPG and working on my guys. I like to think and plan and work on stuff and build the perfect group and all that. Which is why I dislike real-time, not enough tactics, not enough fun, just run in and either let it auto or you press buttons a few times and blaaah. It sucks and it's too boring.
     
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  7. Sheriff05 Liturgist

    Sheriff05
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    Yes, having to multi-task in real-time sucks, TB is the only way to go-
    personally I can't name a real-time game in either RPG or strategy genre that's worth a
    damn..talk all you want about how good PS:T or Arcanum are, but the crappy combat in both really does nothing but detract from the experience.
     
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  8. Azael Magister

    Azael
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    I prefer turn-based combat since it gives me the player more control over things as well as allow for more (potential) options. However, I also think that straight real-time like in Diablo 2 can be a lot of fun if it's done in a similar way in keeping the player involved. Pause and Play doesn't appeal to me since it feels like a half-assed system, it can't give you the same level of control as good turn-based and it doesn't have the same intensity as good real-time combat, it also feels choppy. So, do either turn-based or real-time (and do it good) rather than some doomed attempt to walk the middle ground.

    As for followers, like you stated, it depends on the type of game it is. For strict roleplaying games I prefer a single player created and controlled character and generated companions controlled by AI. It always feel strange in games like KotOR and Baldur's Gate to have companions with "personalities" who still blindly dance as I tell them.
     
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  9. Psilon Erudite

    Psilon
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    Turn-based isn't entirely necessary; there's phase-based as well! :D

    Seriously, though, I prefer "pure" TB and PB systems. Real-time is certainly playable, but I prefer RPGs with less of a twitch element and more tactics. I don't like pause-'n'-play systems any longer, though; they've been overdone, and they're frequently poorly designed to the point where I either sleep through the combat or have to pause every six seconds to micromanage my idiotic hero(es). Mediocrity shines through faster in pause systems than in the other two styles.

    As for the party style, that really does depend on the game itself. If the plot involves a gang of semi-anonymous adventurers beating stuff up, give me the hydra. ToEE, Avernum, and Wizardry did fine at this. You design a party (perhaps grossly overpowered, perhaps generic tank-healer-thief-artillery, perhaps even the five halfling bards or solo half-orc wizard) and see how they do. If the plot centers around the actual party characters, though, I think AI companions are the way to go. There are potentially fewer situations in which the henchmen are forced to do something vastly out of character.
     
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  10. chrisbeddoes Erudite

    chrisbeddoes
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    Taks we both agree that this is going to raise the cost of making the game . However even with the raised cost this option could be viable in some circumstances.

    Lets say as an example purely hypothetical of course that Feargus could find a wealthy publisher that would buy or lease the Fallout license for him . But the publisher would also require from Feargus to at least put "You can play real time" in the box.

    Now Feargus would be put in a tough position. How would the Fallout fans react to this. The publisher wants real time. The players the customers want turn base.
    Should he do a real time turn based hybrid like Arcanum ?

    I think not.

    In that hypothetical case the "choose your path" scenario would be the best one even with the cost of making the game increased by say 20 %.

    Because there could be no other way. Both the publisher and the customers are a powerful force. And a hybrid with big balance problems would satisfy no one.
     
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  11. taks Liturgist

    taks
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    i think the new NWN and toee methods of party NPCs is a step in the right direction (a combination of the two)... limited access to all the character's vitals and equipment and such yet not total control. i wouldn't mind a better AI, however, since watching daelen red tiger stand and pick his nose while i'm trying to whack all my foes with spells (at 1FPS no less) is annoying.

    also, personalities are a must in such situations... they need to have their own motivations and certainly need to be able to offer insight to my character if i ask for it. he doesn't have to offer GOOD insight, just his opinion. heck, his opinion can even be detrimental to my well being if our motivations are different. it's up to me as the PC to determine its value...

    mark
     
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  12. Saint_Proverbius Arcane Patron

    Saint_Proverbius
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    I can't think of a real time system in a CRPG that I've liked compared to a good turn based combat. The problem with real time combats is that they're either arcadish or they're fairly passive. You either have straight up action, which is usually if there's one character like Gothic, Morrowind, and so on - or it's heavily automated like the Infinity Engine games, Dungeon Siege, and so on.

    It just seems to me that turn based has a whole lot more range of options and ways to be different than real time does. Avernum plays differently than Prelude to Darkness which plays different than Fallout which plays differently than Temple of Elemental Evil and so forth. Turn based allows much more diverse modelling of a combat system in how it's handled for the player. For example, how the order of combat is determined can be based on a number of different things and due to the sequential nature of turn based, can play a huge part in the outcome of the event. Turn based can be really simple yet still have a decent amount of options, as you can see in Avernum's combat system, or it can be very elaborate as you can see in Prelude to Darkness with multiple choices in how you can attack and what you can do during the combat.
     
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  13. taks Liturgist

    taks
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    i don't disagree with this as an option, i'm just not sure it's always viable given the probable increased cost of implementation. if they CAN afford it and expect to make a profit in the end as well, i agree completely. big if, however.

    well, i agree that hybrids have balance problems, but that's why i liked your FIRST idea... really a cool idea actually. it's a hybrid only in the sense that some battles are scripted for RT while others for TB. that way, each battle doesn't have to be scripted for both... this is a bit more of a compromise, but i think also a lot more doable.

    not to toot your horn or anything, but this is the best compromise i've seen yet in terms of balance and feasibility.

    mark
     
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  14. Diogo Ribeiro Erudite

    Diogo Ribeiro
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    Well i see it like this.

    [begin longwindedness.exe]

    I prefer turn-based over real-time. I like to have detailed control and many possibilties during combat. This is for two reasons. One, because i don't really like combat which is minimalistic. RT has this problem in order to keep things snappy, and more often than not, it boils down to repetitive action, with few and uninspiring combat elements. This isn't always the case, but i'll get to it in a second. Two, because i really like having all the time in the world to plan my attacks and tactics. I like looking at my party members, or my single PC, and decide what to do and how to do. One of things i liked in Fallout's combat was planning out my move according to how many APs i had, same goes with X-Com. It works quite well as an abstraction of combat.

    Though, real time can also be good. There's no way in hell a real time system can present an equal, or superior level of possibilities that a TB game can. However, it can present fast-paced combat which depends on our skill, and quite frankly, i like that style as well. Being challenged mentality by a TB combat system is as engaging to me as having my coordination and twitch skills challenged by an RT system.

    Of course, TB and RT can suck despite their high points. Arcanum is an example - both its RT and TB, while still functional, weren't exactly the best we've seen. If i'm given TB which doesn't add anything to combat i'm not going to like it; the same happens with badly made RT.

    To summarize, i prefer TB, but welcome both styles. TB is more of a good bonus than a necessity to me. I've just grown more fond of TB systems because there are some good ones out there, better than RT :)

    To be honest, i can't remember a single CRPG which had real time combat i liked. I can only remember console titles, like Soul Reaver 2, which had good RT combat. That title involved taking multiple enemies in combat, it had a lock-on-enemy possibility, enemies waited for their turn (meaning, if you were being asaulted by two similar enemy types, enemies belonging to other factions would wait - hell, enemies from different factions would even fight between themselves). But the problem is, while that combat system is good, it doesn't fit a CRPG, mainly because of control issues.

    Though, come to think of it, there was one action RPG which had decent, although underdeveloped, real time combat, called Revenant. While no doubt a Diablo clone, it allowed for multiple combos, along with blocking maneuvers. This concept is much better than a continuous clicking attack. Having various combat possibilities like that - spells, weapon-specific combos and special attacks, use of block/parrying (and a use of both block and attack patterns) - is always a plus in a RT game.

    To summarize i think RT combat should be fun, but also engaging. Give me various possibilties with visible uses and i'll be happy. Simplistic combat, to put it technically, blows.

    Good question.

    I think that i have to go with party-based gameplay here. Party-based systems offer more combat possibilties, something Temple of Elemental Evil showed quite well. A "single player with follower" system is more limited, and honestly, it works better in real time systems. One of the premises behind turn-based is the effectiveness to which we can control a group of characters. In real time however, keeping it to a minimum of hassle while still maintaing a form of backup - in this case, the henchmen - works much better.

    I agree. But then again, it depends on what the desired goal is. I prefer having a style of party NPC control like Fallout, which makes NPCs appear to have a degree of individuality. You just give them general orders, give out certain behaviouristic patterns, and off they go. That way they remain useful in combat, while retaining a shred of being individuals, not meat puppets. However i think that having a system where you control every aspect of a character isn't exactly bad in itself. Baldur's Gate allowed for this and it wasn't that bad - my main gripe was the inherent problems with being able to tell my party members to do something then have them complain to me that it shifted reputation (example - have Anomen kill a child and watch him complain. Survey says - WTH?); in the same way, it also removed their individuality because i could decide what i wanted them to increse for them. Incidentally i think a system like that of Fallout (for NPC behaviour control and inventory management), and a system like that of the IE games (for combat control) wouldn't be a bad system - though i think that, for instance, implementing a system where i could suggest my party members to improve would be interesting. Planescape: Torment has a different take on this, though - you can control party members in combat, and they're dependant of levelling up by you pressing the button (they aren't independant like Fallout or Arcanum's NPCs in that matter), but they decide what to improve themselves.

    [end longwindedness.exe - for now :wink: ]
     
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  15. chrisbeddoes Erudite

    chrisbeddoes
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    That goes OFF TOPIC but it gave me another 2 cents worth idea.

    What about followers that are effected by the idea of a team-effort ?

    Let say that you melee a lot and you do not have an archer in your team.
    A follower see that and thinks or his A.I. thinks.
    Hey boss we do not have an archer on the team. Next time that i level up i will spend some points as an archer. I also want you to give me a bow.

    Or another follower see that the team has no diplomat so the npc will at a certain point announce to you.
    Hey boss i can see that we do not have a diplomat in our team. I think that by the next level up i will spend some points in diplomacy. I would also love to talk to others as the team representative.

    And this 2 cents idea is easy to implement in the A.I Just check the skills of everyone in the team. Skills are just numbers.
     
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  16. Elwro Arcane

    Elwro
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    I prefer TB. I wouldn't mind real time with pause if the game had other merits, but I would prefer it to be TB, for the reasons that were stated a few times above.

    As for the solo/party/henchmen, I would go for henchmen ala FO2 style, but done way better. You see, in my opinion RPG creators should focus on this aspect of the game. Why? Because no one has done it well yet. FO2 had Marcus using RLauncher without any need; we all know how NWN's henchmen AI sucked; Virgil and Marcus from Arcanum also weren't too bright (though they were behaving better than in FO2 imo). I can't remember any other game that would seriously attempt having henchmen controlled by the AI.
    So do it well, and you'll earn the title of "The guy that made the first game that had good henchmen AI". I think it's worth the effort :). Besides, AI algorithms made well once would be usable in later games.
     
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  17. Diogo Ribeiro Erudite

    Diogo Ribeiro
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    I think real time with pause (RTWP) isn't that good anymore. I've lost all interest in it.
     
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  18. chrisbeddoes Erudite

    chrisbeddoes
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    Taks we totally agree here.

    I would just want to make a small statement or a clarification of my thoughts if you prefer.

    Feargus Urquhart if you ever ever do a Fallout game (yes it is very unlikely but still i have to ask myself WHY did he asked that question here ? was it for ideas or for acceptance ? ( ideas worth 2 cents since ideas is 1% of the effort and hard work to implement the other 99 % of the effort) acceptance from customers is worth much more as the FO:POS episode proves) then please please ! make it turn based only. But if you cannot make it turn based then please make it like this

    Yes you are really making 2 games instead of one (one game for the casual player to get their money and one game for the "hardcore rpger" to get the good reputation and word of mouth for your company that will allow you to sell much more copies in the NEXT game)

    but you can reuse almost everything.(and also hide this very fact from your publisher until at least they give you the money ;) )

    Finally i would like to add that as i do not ( unfortunately ) work in the industry i feel myself free to visit various forums and say " This game sucks this game sucks such and such company sucks "

    And for Fallout i would do it.

    Oh and if that scares anybody in these forums you are not alone. I am scared about it too.

    Chris.
     
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  19. taks Liturgist

    taks
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    since i never played the fallouts (soon, soon) i can't really comment wrt those games. if they were TB, they need to remain TB, IMO.

    assuming AI is smart enough, general commands to the henchman should work perfectly in TB mode, too. behavior commands as stated by greyhawk. i think the off topic portion was really meant to be in response to fergie's full party control question but i didn't carry over my intention. assuming you have general behavior control ala NWN but a slightly more limited access to the stats and inventory ala ToEE, i think a nice balance is acheived. i want to be able to talk to my archer about the bow he should use and maybe even direct his progression somewhat. but i don't mind if he says "well, i like this bow because it's faster even though it does less damage" or "given our last few battles, i think we need to improve my melee first"

    granted, some of these concepts may be a few years off, but the balance between NWN and ToEE in terms of control is what i prefer and i think are pretty easy to implement now.

    mark
     
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  20. taks Liturgist

    taks
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    one thing worth noting is that not all rules systems necessarily translate TB mode to the computer very well. while i think toee did a nice job of it, there were a lot of problems, too. perhaps that's why people still rave about the FO rules (SPECIAL) since they were designed SPECIFICALLY for computer play...

    mark
     
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  21. chrisbeddoes Erudite

    chrisbeddoes
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    I do not disagree. SPECIAL rules for a post apoc game.

    However if SPECIAL is used in a setting with spells then something as crappy as Lionheart may be created.
     
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  22. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

    Vault Dweller
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    There is no point to argue, we all know the arguments. So, to answer the questions:

    I prefer TB combat, I liked some RT RPGs like PST but not because of the combat. If I have to choose between 2 games, I'd always pick a TB one. I think that it's all depends on the system, i.e. Lionheart, Harbinger, and other flops had extremely simple and boring combat. IE games went with DnD so at least some complexity was there. D2 had a very good, very complex system too. DS went the wrong way turning the game into a screensaver which is the opposite of TB combat.

    The ones that add some tactical elements and require player's involvements in a meaningful ways. Again, it depends on the system and its implementation. KOTOR's combat was extremely boring. Lionheart's combat was actually painful. BG2 combat wasn't bad during those mages' duels (other then time stops routine).

    Like you said, it depends on a game. If it's a dungeon crawler like ToEE or IWD2, then party, if there is a story, if a game is basically about how your character(s) interacts with the gameworld, then single player with followers.
     
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  23. Diogo Ribeiro Erudite

    Diogo Ribeiro
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    And now for something totally unrelated, when will the forums at Obsidian open, Feargus?
     
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  24. Otaku_Hanzo Erudite

    Otaku_Hanzo
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    TB!!!!! :cool: :cool: :cool:

    My two cents. :P
     
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  25. EEVIAC Erudite

    EEVIAC
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    As an extension of Saint's reply, which lists some great TB systems (even though it leaves out JA2 and Wizardry's PB system,) can anyone list a TB combat system that hasn't worked? I honestly can't think of one.

    On the other hand I can list a lot of games with RT combat that I haven't liked. My favourite RT game would be Diablo 2, yet I think I like the game in spite of its combat, rather than because of it. The same can be said of the IE games.
     
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