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Default What Makes RPG Combat Good? @ Joystiq

April 7th, 2012, 07:10
In his weekly RPG column at Joystiq, Rowan Kaiser asks What makes role-playing game combat good? I thought the article missed the obvious answer and goes for "responsiveness" instead:
Responsive pace means that when you press the button to have something happen, that thing happens quickly. In Jagged Alliance 2, one of the greatest tactical RPGs of all time, you click your mouse and you immediately see what happens. Your choices register instantly. Or, in games like The Elder Scrolls: Arena and Daggerfall, your sword follows your mouse when you hold the attack button, and you see the effect instantly. On the other hand, there are games like Anachronox, a fascinating Ion Storm homage to Japanese classic Chrono Trigger. Anachronox does extremely well at setting a tone for the game with interesting characters and narrative, but its sluggish combat is a major drawback and renders the game extremely frustrating in battle-heavy areas.
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April 7th, 2012, 07:10
He would have had a point if he simply dropped the Rpg angle.
Really wish calling oneself a gaming journalist required something more then the ability to work a keyboard.
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April 7th, 2012, 07:40
"Responsive pace means that when you press the button to have something happen, that thing happens quickly."

Oh yeah, that's called the awesome button. Right?
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April 7th, 2012, 08:19
Ok I'll bite. What is the obvious answer?
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April 7th, 2012, 09:52
Originally Posted by sakichop View Post
"Responsive pace means that when you press the button to have something happen, that thing happens quickly."

Oh yeah, that's called the awesome button. Right?
heehee good one
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April 7th, 2012, 11:58
The obvious answer is of course turn-based.
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April 7th, 2012, 13:21
The obvious answer is of course that RPG's can feature
  • real time combat
  • turn based combat
  • 'real time' combat with cool down periods..
  • lots of hybrids of the above three

The above article only addresses real time combat. No doubt he refers to RPGs like Call of Duty…

edit: Why didn't I see tomasp3n's reply before?
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April 7th, 2012, 13:38
Originally Posted by tomasp3n View Post
The obvious answer is of course turn-based.
Unlike you, I approbate real-time combat because of it's more activity but generally I think it isn't a principle and depends on your taste.
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April 7th, 2012, 13:56
Of course it comes down to taste, I was just joking. I like loads of different systems, although if I could choose one preference it would probably be tactical turn-based, like JA2 and X-com. But I also like real-time with pause like in the infinity games and Fallout Tactics. And although I might not prefer pure real-time there are still loads of great games with real-time combat that have kept me entertained for hundreds of hours.

The main thing I want is probably tactical depth. You can have that in all of the above mentioned systems.
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April 7th, 2012, 15:00
RPGs have terrible combat.
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April 7th, 2012, 16:00
I think the type of combat style really depends on the game. Take any game and change the style from real time to turn based or vice versa - would it be better that way or did the combat style fit the game the way that it was?

My favorite real time combat was the system used in Ultima Underworld. It felt more natural than anything else I have used since then. You would move the mouse forward to thrust your sword, sideways to slash, and back to cleave. As much as I loved the turn based Ultimas, this real time style fit the Ultima Underworld series.
Last edited by Xian; April 7th, 2012 at 16:51.
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April 7th, 2012, 17:49
Originally Posted by sakichop View Post
"Responsive pace means that when you press the button to have something happen, that thing happens quickly."

Oh yeah, that's called the awesome button. Right?
No, it means when you press a button something happens. I'm still not sure what the Hades that's supposed to mean, though. What game - heck, what program has you giving input without something happening on the screen?? It's been too long since I played Anachronox to remember it's combat system. He's saying Jagged Alliance 2 is a positive example, though, and that was more turn based. <shrug>

I agree with him a lot more when he talks about the second point - variety. That's definitely true.

I would put long-term strategy in there, too. When you're building up, the RPGs that I like most will let me mix and match the various skills to make a strong over-all strategy. Maybe that will be done with the skills of my character or maybe it will have more to do with what party members I bring along - the key is that it's my strategy. A game where you can go the archer route, the wizard route, or the fighter route is not nearly as fun as a game where you have several skill trees and need to combine them effectively to make a strong character.
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April 7th, 2012, 18:15
What makes RPG Combat good is variation. The fewer actions you have access to the more repetitive it gets. I recently finished Legacy and Dungeon Master. The variation in theese games are slim. This become more obvious the more monsters that are thrown in which happens in each expansion. Games like Baldurs Gate never got boring because every situation had plenty of choices and plenty of strategies.

Monster vulnerabilities, various areadamage, manaconsumption, limited resources, area properties to take in consideration etc.

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April 7th, 2012, 19:40
Originally Posted by sakichop View Post
"Responsive pace means that when you press the button to have something happen, that thing happens quickly."

Oh yeah, that's called the awesome button. Right?
Precisely my thought when I read that retarded piece.

Good RPG combat = anything that uses primarily your brain
Good other genre combat = anything that uses primarily your reflexes

"Journalists" that need "responsiveness" in an RPG clearly don't appreciate what differentiates it from other genres.

RPG mechanics = more abstract, player works on rules and information, CPU determines if attack hits
Other genre mechanics = less abstract, player works with visual cues, GPU determines if attack hits
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April 7th, 2012, 21:12
Turn-based combat allows for more distinct options, more complex options, and more complex combat scenarios in general. Real-time combat allows for simple options and less options, though considerably more control over each option. Real-time combat is more fun to watch if you don't understand what's going on. Real-time combat also makes it easier to exploit the AI, and is more forgiving in general due to the fact that players have less time to make smart decisions. Of course, combat itself is a glorified mini-game and a completely unnecessary part of RPGs.
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April 7th, 2012, 22:58
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
No, it means when you press a button something happens. I'm still not sure what the Hades that's supposed to mean, though. What game - heck, what program has you giving input without something happening on the screen?? It's been too long since I played Anachronox to remember it's combat system. He's saying Jagged Alliance 2 is a positive example, though, and that was more turn based. <shrug>

I agree with him a lot more when he talks about the second point - variety. That's definitely true.

I would put long-term strategy in there, too. When you're building up, the RPGs that I like most will let me mix and match the various skills to make a strong over-all strategy. Maybe that will be done with the skills of my character or maybe it will have more to do with what party members I bring along - the key is that it's my strategy. A game where you can go the archer route, the wizard route, or the fighter route is not nearly as fun as a game where you have several skill trees and need to combine them effectively to make a strong character.
I was saying that in semi-jest. There really are too many different rpg combat systems to think you can come up with one sure fire formula to good rpg combat.

To me though this has nothing to do with whether or not the rpg combat will be good:

"Responsive pace means that when you press the button to have something happen, that thing happens quickly."

That would rule out turn based and RTWP combat all together.
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April 8th, 2012, 12:25
Seriously I'm getting tried of theses type of articles. It seems to be the in thing to bash older rpg's and jrpg's.

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April 10th, 2012, 21:51
"Responsive pace means that when you press the button to have something happen, that thing happens quickly."
Instant gratification required. Cooldowns? Turns? Patience!? That's good for old people

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April 10th, 2012, 22:44
This so-called "journalist" but really "clueless console hack", should be banned to the netherworld, never again to subject the world to his action gaming pandering…
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April 10th, 2012, 23:33
To be fair, he mentions Jagged Alliance 2 as an example of responsive combat, covers many of the PC classics, and actually touches on a number of other aspects besides reponsiveness I would myself consider important, such as variety of combat options and encounter design, context of combat in the larger game, etc.
Not the greatest article ever, but no reason to bring out the torch and pitchfork, imho.
Have some of you guys actually read the article?
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