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Default Gamasutra - 12 Ways To Improve Turn-Based RPG's

April 17th, 2013, 02:44
Gamasutra has another editorial that is a follow up to another one. It deals with fallout from the previous article, and deals with turn-based RPG's.
In my last opinion piece, I provoked a certain subsection of the world of RPG enthusiasts by slaughtering a particularly sacred cow: the D&D-style combat system. A surprising number of people wrote in agreeing with me. Predictably, however, others responded in one of two ways: (1) “So you think a real-time, action-centered combat system is better?” or (2) “Name an RPG combat system that’s better!”

The answer to (1) is easy. No, I don’t think real-time is better. Just the opposite: I prefer turn-based combat in my RPGs. Of the six games I’ve released since I started designing games, five use turn-based combat, and I’m working on two more with turn-based tactical combat for good measure. That should probably tell you something about my tastes.

The answer to (2) is more complicated. I don’t think that there is just one way to do a turn-based RPG combat system correctly. I’ll avoid naming particular games, since I don’t want to give the impression that all RPGs should employ combat in the style of any one particular game. I will, however, discuss the features that good turn-based tactical combat systems have in common, and cite games that successfully employ them.

The Four Virtues of a good tactical turn-based combat system


If you’ve read my last article, this list is going to look familiar. A good tactical turn-based combat system exemplifies the following Four Virtues:

(1) Emergent complexity
. It creates complex gameplay out of a comparatively simple set of rules.
(2) Clarity. The immediate consequences of various tactical decisions are made clear to the player.
(3) Determinism. The system is sufficiently deterministic that skilled play using a proper strategy will nearly always result in victory.
(4) Tactical tools. If there is some randomness in the system (which there will be in most cases), the player has sufficient tactical tools at her disposal so that skilled play will almost always trump bad luck.
More information.
Last edited by Couchpotato; April 17th, 2013 at 03:01.
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April 17th, 2013, 02:44
Turn based games are a hard one. Fire Emblem, as mentioned in the article is an amazing tactical combat rpg, but that pretty much is most of the game. That in no way is bad thing, but complex combat encounters that last 30 minutes may be detrimental to other aspects of rpgs, such as promoting exploration, etc.

Perhaps a better perspective, is to look at Wizardry 8 combat. There has been no shortage of debate over the length of combat there, though I think everyone pretty much agrees that the complexity is a good thing.
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April 17th, 2013, 03:16
I didn't quite agree with point 3. I like a bit more randomness so that, with skilled play, I'll win maybe 75% of the time. Extremely skilled play might get to 95%.

I agreed with pretty much everything else, though. Particularly the bit about having something more to aim for rather than just winning in a battle. I think one of the biggest reasons I loved playing Last Remnant so much is because even in the easy battles I was thinking about who is learning what skills.
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April 17th, 2013, 08:15
Number 3 would be more reasonable if it ended with "against a less skilled opponent". With an equally skilled opponent, it should be about 50%. But the opponent, of course, is a computer and most single-player RPGs require you to either win or reload. From a certain perspective, that's a very odd way to play a game.
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April 17th, 2013, 11:13
There's a follow-up: http://sinisterdesign.net/6-more-way…ombat-systems/

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April 17th, 2013, 15:49
Hasn't he heard that no one plays turn-based games anymore, because graphics? Oh wait, that was 2012.

So glad turn-based games are ascendant again!

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April 17th, 2013, 17:50
about #9, the rarely-seen ability to make spells more powerful by investing more magic points. Or, also seen in Wizardry, the option to expand more stamina points to make more powerful attacks (berserking).

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April 17th, 2013, 18:02
Originally Posted by screeg View Post
Hasn't he heard that no one plays turn-based games anymore, because graphics? Oh wait, that was 2012.

So glad turn-based games are ascendant again!
That's the same theory as pcgames are dead. People keep saying it but that doesn't make it true.

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April 17th, 2013, 18:34
Originally Posted by Couchpotato View Post
That's the same theory as pcgames are dead. People keep saying it but that doesn't make it true.
Come tot think of it, there hasn't been a ClickBait 'PC Gaming is Dying' article in a few months. My spidey-sense tells me there must be one coming soon.

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April 17th, 2013, 18:43
The best way to improve turn based combat in RPGs: Make it skippable if you're too powerful for the enemy you meet. Similar to HoMM and so on. As I've said before: I hate killing rats in slow motion.
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April 17th, 2013, 19:47
Originally Posted by TheMadGamer View Post
Come tot think of it, there hasn't been a ClickBait 'PC Gaming is Dying' article in a few months. My spidey-sense tells me there must be one coming soon.
I don't know will there. I wont don't worry as I cant stand them myself.
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
The best way to improve turn based combat in RPGs: Make it skippable if you're too powerful for the enemy you meet. Similar to HoMM and so on. As I've said before: I hate killing rats in slow motion.
I agree it's one the best ways to improve turn based combat. As you said at the end no enemy's are a challenge for you anymore. It gets boring fast when no one can challenge you anymore.

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April 18th, 2013, 03:25
Oh, we'll have "PC Gaming is dead!" articles a'plenty come Christmas. People will look at the hot, new next-gen games, compare them to PC games (that were ported from current-gen consoles), and pronounce the PC dead.
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