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Default Rampant Games - The Battle That Rages For Centuries

December 1st, 2010, 05:23
The Rampant Coyote makes some observations about turn-based combat and battle duration. Cue the forum wars…
I’m a fan of turn-based combat in RPGs. Not to the exclusion of real-time combat, but I love the little tactical mini-game of turn-based combat. I’m one of those people for whom the original X-Com might as well have been brought down from Mount Olympus itself by Promethius (in the hand that wasn’t holding a torch).
But even I have my limits. My number one complain about Wizardry 8 – which was otherwise a stellar RPG that seemed written specifically for me – was the length of its combat. The seemingly interminable final battle in Persona 3 almost (but not quite) spoiled the game for me, especially as I failed so close to victory the first time and had to replay the whole thing – which took me well into the wee hours of the morning. Stupid save-points. And my love of the classic “Gold Box” games – and their signature tactical combat in the style of miniatures-based 1st edition Dungeons & Dragons games – is tempered somewhat by the memory of some really long, drawn-out fights against random encounters. Particularly in the first game, Pool of Radiance.
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December 1st, 2010, 05:24
For me its largely about interesting decisions that can be made. The first couple of moves are usually most interesting in most games because they tend to determine the course of battle. After the battle is won from those decisions everything else is mopping up and that is boring.

Lots of console games have 'cursor memory' to help with this so knowing that you are probably just going to spam the same attack you did last time and make it easy. This does not make it fun however since you are just doing the same thing over and over. If I can just hold A down to kill everything then why even bother. If you really had to think about which attack or spell every turn it tends to be more interesting. Sometimes boss battles give random immunity to the boss to force you to change tactics and that helps keep it fun by forcing you to pay attention.

I dont mind long battles if they are interesting throughout. Some of my JA2 battles saw what seemed like hours of combat where I strategically defended a mine and killed 80 or more enemy combatants with only 6 mercs. The fun there was to get proper placement so that I was properly defending mercs against interrupts and flanking maneuvers. Those battles tended to be interesting because the outcome was still highly variable but with proper strategies could still be effectively managed.
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December 1st, 2010, 10:50
Like I've stated many times: I really enjoy TB combat when it's challenging enough to be interesting. However, most games consist primarily of fights that are not even remotely challenging, and in such cases I prefer to have a "skip fight" option (for example the automatic fights or let-them-flee options in Heroes of Might and Magic). If there is no "skip fight" feature, I honestly prefer RTwP or simply RT, as I get bored out of my mind when beating up rat after rat in TB combat.
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December 1st, 2010, 14:10
I prefer 5 10 minute long battles than 50 1 minute long battles. Of course, that's if they are 10 minute long because you need to use strategy and tactics, using each character's abilities, etc. If they last 10 minutes because I have to chase down enemies all over the place, without any real challenge, then it sucks.
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December 1st, 2010, 14:45
One could argue that a well designed game should make sure that each fight is intresting. From that point of view, a "skip battle" button is actually an abomination, as it really represents an admission of the developer that most of what the player encounters will just be filler.
I'd really like to see an RPG where there are maybe just 15-20 battles, but each as well designed and different as typical missions in a strategy game.
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December 1st, 2010, 15:22
I acctually don't get why you face 100's of rats in a lot of games? isn't this encounter completely pointless? it doesn't add anything to the story… it doesn't add anything to the player… they are easy to kill….. ? I won't have these kind of fights in TMoF….. it is going to make it shorter? but is anyone going to complain ?
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December 1st, 2010, 17:17
I imagine that the rare fight with hundreds of low-level enemies might be fun. But it would have to be handled well and ideally a story-based encounter. You know, a party of six holding up an army in a narrow pass, that kind of thing. But as a random, frequent event - ugh. I suppose an ideal game might interactively make even those encounters fun and interesting, though. I'm just not sure how.
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December 1st, 2010, 20:06
It depends. Often, fighting rats is an early quest and it's all about learning to deal with group encounters. The point is to teach the character/team how to imobilize one group while tackling another, etc. Anybody who played Drakensang and dealt with Mother Rat and the gang won't call that a pointless encounter. It was challenging and a lot of fun. So a big fight with rats CAN be valid.

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December 1st, 2010, 20:57
One big fight with rats definetely…. especially if it has special reasons… but if it fun the first time you do it… how fun is it after 20 times ?
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December 1st, 2010, 22:28
Nothing's as fun the 20th time. Well, okay, almost nothing

In theory, there's no reason a fight against a similar composition of enemies need feel "the same" every time. Between differences in terrain, environment, situation, and varying the enemy's tactics / AI / weaponry / specialties a bit each time, all twenty fights could seem unique and interesting. Well, against rats, it's harder to imagine, but against a group of bandits it would make sense.
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December 2nd, 2010, 00:21
Originally Posted by RampantCoyote View Post
Nothing's as fun the 20th time. Well, okay, almost nothing

In theory, there's no reason a fight against a similar composition of enemies need feel "the same" every time. Between differences in terrain, environment, situation, and varying the enemy's tactics / AI / weaponry / specialties a bit each time, all twenty fights could seem unique and interesting. Well, against rats, it's harder to imagine, but against a group of bandits it would make sense.
As tactics go, I always refer to my favorite tactical RPG: Gladius. Each battle has different conditions: The enemies (their classes, levels, elemental affinity, etc), the terrain (can you used ranged combat? magic? is it a big area or cramped quarters?), the rules (kill everybody, do more damage, protect someone, be the fastest, survival, etc), your party (restrictions on who can participate, etc). These elements made for a game where almost every single battle was interesting. Battles lasted a long time (I'd say in the 10 minute range, sometimes more), but they were fun.
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December 2nd, 2010, 01:19
Well, this is apropos. I've been playing X:COM for my first time. Last night I finally took out my first alien base. It took 2 school nights. That's 2 nights for one combat. LOL! And it didn't seem like it. It was fun!
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