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TB System: Action Points vs. Single Action

Discussion in 'Codex Workshop' started by Necropennis, Jan 22, 2008.

  1. Necropennis Scholar

    Necropennis
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    I used the search and looked on the stickies but I didn't find a discussion like this so here it goes:

    I'm designing a TB system for my future game and I can't decide what's better for a party based tactical game: action points or just one action per turn per character (not inclunding movement)?

    An action points system (a la Fallout and Silent Storm) seems to be more "realistic" since a fast character can make multiple attacks on his turn, or a melee specialized character can flank his enemies and take one out quickly because he can attack multiple times, but on the other hand this system seems to be very hard to balance properly and avoid cheesy tactics or minmaxed characters that can solo the game.

    Now a single action system (a la Tactics Ogre and FFT) is easier to balance and implement, and also provides a different kind of challenge, since you know your characters can only move and attack once, and they are going to be sitting there until their next turn, whereas on a action point system you can walk out of cover, shoot and go back (unless one make the act of attacking a sort of "last action", meaning you can't do anything else after you start shooting/hacking away).

    Also, it seems to me that a single action system "forces" the player to play his characters as a group, each covering each other weaknesses, whereas on a AP system you can play your characters in a more individual manner (which is something I don't want), but I might be wrong on that though.

    So, what do you think is the best system or what are their strenghts and weaknesses?

    ps. Forgive my crappy english, it's not my native language
     
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  2. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    Depends on what you want to have. If you make it from a top-down isometric view and want tactical combat, go for an AP system. If you want to make it more like the old Wizardries and Might and Magics, then go for a one-action system. AP system offers a lot more tactical depth, and I'd like that better, but it also requires more thought and balancing. I'd suggest AP, though, because it's more complex and interesting.
     
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  3. Mayday Liturgist

    Mayday
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    I don't know if I've ever played a single-action RPG game except for ADOM.
    The idea in this game is superb for a single PC game, so if you're going to have the party control in the same manner as in Fallout (ie: you only control your PC directly), then it's the best way to go.
    It's a combination of single action and action points in that after you perform one action, the others move all at once... BUT! If- after performing your action- you still have more APs than anyone else, you get another turn- this way "a fast character can make multiple attacks on his turn"
    Of course, you can still have it with a party based RPG in that all the characters are scrolled through for the amount of action points left- just PLEASE: have all the NPC move at once (unlike Fallout).
     
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  4. Red Russian Scholar

    Red Russian
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    This sounds to me like a gameplay problem, though I could be wrong. Since you're doing a forced (?) party-system you'll also know that the player won't be able to choose wether or not he has no one in his party. This would mean that each character is going to be eventually dependant on another one, wether in or out of combat. The player can choose to play each character individually, but they're anyway's flat out fucked since they're trying to... gun-ho their own situation, rather as a group.

    So what am I saying? Each character can fuck their own hand, but it ain't no gang bang with butt secks.
     
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  5. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    DraQ
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    Neither.
    Quasi-continuous "action bar" a'la Wizardry 8 is the way to go.

    (Basically action points minus discretization)
     
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  6. The Rambling Sage Scholar

    The Rambling Sage
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    I prefer simple mechanics, but nothing as simple as one action per turn. Then, why must it either be high AP or Single Action? Try a low AP system - Say, between three and six AP? As far i have seen such systems work better from a "mechanics" perspective, since there is only so many different actions, weapons, and maneouvers you can fit in such a range, all clearly differenced, and the "dificulty" must come from the situations and escenarios you put the player through.
     
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  7. Human Shield Augur

    Human Shield
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    This isn't realistic. Melee combat isn't won by whoever has the most swings per second.

    Riddle of Steel

    "5. Initiative & choice - The standard mechanism for determining who attacks first in most games is an initiative roll modified by a character's weapon speed and personal agility or reflexes. The problem is fighting does not really work this way. Speed and timing are different things. Any attack can only occur in one of three times: either before, during, or after the adversary attacks. Just because you have the opportunity to attack first doesn't mean you have to or should want to. The faster fighter instead of striking first can often delay and attack just as the opponent moves so as to counter-time their action and thereby deliver a more effective blow. Or the faster fighter can choose to delay his action and strike just after the opponent has, voiding and counter-striking in one action by taking advantage of the opening afterward. This decision making occurs instantly in fighting and is why fights involve not just overwhelming the opponent with blows, but also pausing, feinting, shifting, and juxtaposition for advantage. Further, a weapon's "speed", or rather its maneuverability as it relates to weight, is a factor in its ability to hit, not whether it gets in the first attack."

    Also movement speed can be different with different movement rates for characters.

    You are also not thinking of reflex actions, or things like overwatch in an action system.

    Check out the free rules for these tabletop wargames:

    Infinity
    Battlefield: Evolution
    AT-43
     
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  8. Murk Arcane

    Murk
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    In solo based games (Fallout, Arcanum) where you have less control over your followers, I'd definitely say AP based as you will often be held accountable for the incompetency of the AI.

    Those games I always played solo.

    For actual squad based tactical games (Tactics Ogre/ FFT, incidentally two of my favourite ps1 games) It's a bit more understandable to have the single action system as those games SHOULD be played with your squad as a whole (that didn't stop me from soloing it though, fun fun fun).

    I think that AP systems give the player more power as you can definitely use your understanding of the system to your advantage over the hordes of usually weaker and less skilled enemies (how many times did you mow through dozens of opponents in Arcanum or Fallout?). The single action system however puts things at more even odds, and in the case of Fallout or Arcanum your character may be held accountable for some righteous ass raping. Or if your jacked up on speed - you might be blasting your enemies with attacks/abilities that take whole turns, but since you're so fast you're getting a bunch, it doesn't matter.

    Case in point - squire ramza dual wielding chaos blades + high speed = massive sodomy for all enemies. The AP system ensures that anytime you use a super attack you end up draining more points for it and so are left unable to do it again and again like a machine gun (not counting haste potions in arcanum for crazy broke combat mechanics).

    However, I think both can be remedied to work either way - but taking into account realistic view points I'd say that's a fair judgement. I'm sure you can make AI be super smart so a party of 3 really can take on a party of 10 with you only controlling one, or require group interdependance (ToEE ?).
     
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  9. SkeleTony Augur

    SkeleTony
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    Action points, ala JA2, Fallout: Tactics, etc. are both more realistic AND more fun IMO. I can understand wanting to keep things simple when developing a game. After all, your game is not going to be completed...EVER. So there is no point adding crap to the end of the list of stuff you won't get to. But if you ARE part of that 0.02% of amateur game developers who manages to finish his own RPG then AP would be a good thing. One thing I hate about some of my favorite RPGs(Like Natuk, Nahlakh etc.) is having guys who can sprint 100 yards in less than 2.5 seconds but lose all movement/action points as soon as they attempt an attack(regardless of when the attack is made).
     
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  10. Hory Erudite

    Hory
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    I don't have much experience with RPG systems, but I like the approach of Precis Intermedia's genreDiversion i system. It's a kind of flexible single action / turn, based on skill/difficulty rather than raw number of AP.

    Attacking twice in a round / attacking different targets / drawing your weapon and shooting in the same round / moving and shooting / using two weapons at once / aiming at a particular body-part / etc. - these all make it more difficult to succeed the task.
     
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  11. Squeek Scholar

    Squeek
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    Both can be fun, but if I had to pick one, I'd go with one action per turn. Maybe it's just that it's more familiar, but I feel better about it, somehow.
     
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  12. Mayday Liturgist

    Mayday
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    WHAT the hell, people?
    Single Action DOES allow you to jump from behind a corner and shoot immediately IF you're agile enough.
    AP turn based allow you to do this EVERY time.
    I seriously don't see a way how AP turnbased could ever be better than single action.
     
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  13. SkeleTony Augur

    SkeleTony
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    Perhaps if we knew WHICH single action game you are thinking of and which AP game you are comparing that to...?

    In any case AP is superior because it realistically simulates real time action in a turn based environment. Especially a good game like Jagged Alliance 2 with it's interupts and such.

    Typically in single action RPGs you could jump back and forth from around a corner until all of your movement is used up but taking a shot...regardless of whether you take it before doing ANY movement or near the end of your movement phase, results in that PC's turn being over.
     
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  14. afewhours Scholar

    afewhours
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    I am a bit biased, but I really liked the quasi-AP system of Star Trail.

    Every character starts off with a base movement of 8, which goes down depending on how much weight they're carrying. Each action has a movement cost, but certain actions end your turn then and there. IIRC 'attack' used up 3 action points, but it ended your turn regardless of how many movement points you had left afterwards. I think the same went with magic.

    If you wanted to implement a system that didn't lionise speedy characters too much, it could be worth a gander.
     
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  15. Claw Erudite Patron

    Claw
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    It seems like every post of HS is now about his Conan fetish.
     
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  16. Sodomy Scholar

    Sodomy
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    I say- use the PtD system.

    In case you haven't played PtD:

    Every character starts with an amount of AP that's dependant on their speed. Whoever has the most AP goes first. That player selects an action that is then performed. If they have AP left over, they go back in the turn queue based on how much AP they still have. Then, whoever has the most AP goes. When everyone is out of AP, a new round begins.

    An example:
    say Celeres starts with 15, Evgren starts with 12, and Octanus with 11 AP (names taken from PtD default party).


    Celes attacks first. He goes with a strong attack, which uses 8 AP. He has 7 AP remaining, so Evgren goes next.

    Evgren uses a normal attack, which uses 6 AP. She has 6 AP remaining, Celeres has 7, and Octanus has 11; thus, it's Octanus's turn.

    Octanus casts a spell that costs 10 AP. He is reduced to 1 AP. Thus, it's Celeres's turn.

    Celeres does a quick attack; this uses 4 AP; he has 3 remaining. Evgren's turn.

    Evgren uses another normal attack, and is reduced to 0 AP.

    Since Octanus and Celeres both have the same amount of AP, whoever has a higher speed goes next; that's Celeres. However, with 1 AP he can't do much, and so he just defends for the rest of his turn. Same with Octanus. Then, since everyone is at AP 0, their APs are all refilled and a new round begins.

    Note that there is an option to "wait", which just burns as many AP as are necessary until the next character goes, and then allows the character who waited the chance to attack. Also note that while no one in this example went twice in a row, such a situation might be possible with a fast character (for instance, if Celeres had 20 AP, and opened with a quick attack for 4 AP, he'd have had 16 AP left over, thus allowing him to go again immediately).
     
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  17. kingcomrade Kingcomrade Edgy

    kingcomrade
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    Funnily enough, I like Single Action systems better. Less mucking about.
     
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  18. dagorkan Arbiter

    dagorkan
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    I think some kind of 'continuous turns' system would be ideal for realism

    You have turn but they are so short (fractions of seconds) that if it's a complicated action you are not guaranteed to manage to complete your action in that turn. Eg, you have a choice of:

    -Shooting if you've aleady aimed or shooting blindly
    -Trying to reload your gun - but it will take several turns, depending on your dexterity/concentration/weapon
    -Aiming a gun, the more turns you aim the better the accuracy
    -Ducking behind cover
    -Swinging a sword
    -Getting back into guard after making a melee attack
    -Picking a lock, arming a trap/bomb - will take many, many turns (again, 'progress' of the action depends on a chance based on sill/situation modifiers)
    -Running forward x distance

    The trouble is making it fluid enough that it can progress. With a Single Player CRPG that should be possible

    Not sure how much 'strategy' there would be either, it's more of a simulation model.
     
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  19. Murk Arcane

    Murk
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    So you mean in a continuous flow of "ticks"?

    Assuming there's a constant stream of "ticks" going, and say for instance your character has the following actions:

    aim: 1 tick
    shoot: 2 ticks
    run: 1.5 (rounded up) ticks per "hex"
    walk: 1 tick per "hex"
    etc.: x ticks

    and your enemies are "resopnding" in the same time?
     
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  20. dagorkan Arbiter

    dagorkan
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    Yeah, it's simultaneous, so there aren't turns but rounds. Each 'player' doesn't know what the enemy will do in the same round, both announce their actions first to the GM/game engine and then the round is resolved.

    Round 1:
    I decide my character will try to aim a shot and at the same time use partial cover
    Enemy decides to fire a snapshot without aiming

    Resolve actions: he misses, I don't need to interrupt my aim

    Round 2:
    I decide to try to shoot
    Enemy ducks behind total cover (a wall or something), reloads revolver (will take 4-6 rounds)

    Resolve actions: reflex-based chance at penalty of shooting before he ducks behind cover, otherwise shot wasted

    Round 3:
    Either
    -try to edge around, judging he's just behind that corner, ready to shoot (limit to how much aim benefit I can get, will be affected by reflexes/fear)
    -stay in position out of cover, aiming at where I think he'll appear (use listen checks to determine position)
    -holster pistol and prime a grenade to throw around the corner, hoping he doesn't reload first


    It's based on each round:

    There's a formula for how much benefit you gain from aiming, the maximum benefit is based on your skill and it can be disrupted by being shot/distractions

    Shooting doesn't cost anything, you can shoot as many times as your weapon is able to, but subsequent shots without aiming would have major penalties

    Reloading a revolver and doing nothing else you'd have say 50% chance of loading one bullet per round, and a chance of 'fumbling' and losing the bullet.

    You can also perform several actions per turn, eg, combine walking slowly with aiming, which will affect your aim (not as good as standing still/crouching)

    What combinations you can have and what the effect of combinations are on different actions in the same round would be set in rules, the idea is to be able to do anything which you could do in reality, and because it's realistic you decide on what to do intuitively, without trying to 'game the system' (which you always do with AP-based turn systems - trying to not 'waste APs', using your remaining APs after an attack to move away from melee enemy such that it won't have enough APs to attack back, or will only have one attack)
     
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  21. Section8 Erudite

    Section8
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    Either system is pretty flexible when you get right down to it. There's nothing saying you couldn't have a "fire around corner" single action you can perform after a "hug wall" single action.

    It all depends on what you want to achieve.

    Notable single action / short turn games:

    Eschalon Book 1: So simple it basically plays out in real-time, but with no time pressure on player input. Not overly interesting, but expedient.

    Roguelikes: Quick and to the point, with a constant flow of interactivity. Speed of the world scales around you, though the steps are anything but smooth.

    Incubation: Fairly ridiculous, with an average of about 3 APs per character, which really must be spent with sagacity, making the game play more like a puzzle game.

    "Blob with Arms": Most of the party based first person dungeon crawlers of yesteryear play out with you basically plotting a single action for each character, and without movement it relies on a well developed set of spells and phsyical attacks. The late Wizardries are prime examples.

    ...all very different implementations using the same basic concepts. You could do the same for AP systems, which range from Fallout's "move a little bit attack once or twice" to X-Com's "run halfway across the map, shoot two or three times" or Silent Storm's "unload a whole clip" turns.
     
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  22. Mayday Liturgist

    Mayday
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    Like I said, I've never played a game like this except for ADOM, but here's how I envision it:

    Everybody starts with an amount of AP based on his agility (and other factors). The one with the most AP starts the combat. You issue an order and it is carried out in steps (actions), for example a complicated attack consists of:
    -kneeling
    -aiming
    -shooting.
    Walking is carried out in short distances (steps?). The point is, when you perform an action, another round starts- the system checks for who has the most AP now. If you are agile and have more AP than others, you get to do another action now. If not, all the others move SIMULTANEOUSLY (which is a great benefit over lengthy Fallout combat) until one of your party members is the one with the most AP again.
    APs regenerate of course.

    I understand that walking might be a bit tedious in this system... any tips for that? (Imagine a full 3d, not tile based environment).
     
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  23. Necropennis Scholar

    Necropennis
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    Hmm, that's interesting. I'm gonna check it up
     
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  24. Human Shield Augur

    Human Shield
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    What is that supposed to mean?

    Whenever someone wants a realistic system I mention one that is phase based and doesn't use HP. And in that game, armor is very important (you have to trip and exhaust a guy in plate armor if you don't have a anti-armor weapon), so I don't know where you pull naked chest barbarians from.
     
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  25. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    DraQ
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    I would disagree on late Wizardries, specifically Wizardry 8. While you only declare one action per character per round (two if you move around), characters are able to perform this action multiple times per turn (often switching targets), more so, their ability to perform multiple actions gradualy decreases with increase of the distance your party walked/ran in this round, so it's safe to say that Wiz8 has sort of AP system hidden behind single action interface.
     
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