Rampant Games - The Forgettable Fight
The Rampant Coyote has posted a new article on his blog called, "RPG Design: The Forgettable Fight."
I really need to go back and re-play Ultima 7 to completion. Many people – including me – cite it as one of the greatest RPGs of all time. I’m not sure how much the rose-tinted glasses figure into this. But part of me wants to answer this question:
Is Ultima 7 such an awesome RPG in spite of the fact that the combat system sucks, or because the combat sucks?
Maybe some people might argue the combat system doesn’t suck, but I’ve never heard anyone really defend it. I remember getting to the point where it was somewhat manageable, but for the most part it was a hideous real-time brawl with little control over what was going on. I have faint recollections of a couple of fights, but none of them were memorable. The best that could be said is that due to the real-time nature, they were over with pretty quickly.
That’s actually pretty core to the question. Because combat sucked and over so quickly, it wasn’t central to the game. It wasn’t part of the “main gameplay loop” as it is in most games. It didn’t dominate the gameplay. It was more often an obstacle (and sometimes one to be avoided) – one of many. In effect, the game played much more like an adventure game with stats. It was more about exploration and problem-solving than fighting.