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January 23rd, 2008, 17:34
Originally Posted by bkrueger View Post
So, when discussion, what a game should do for the combat responsiveness, you should have a fully player controlled party in mind, otherwise there is an obvious bias to non-party games - they have a by far easier task.
Obviously it's simpler to create an interface where you only control one actor, but that doesn't mean that multi-actor games are necessarily less fluid or responsive.

Remember Close Combat? That was twelve years ago. You controlled a "party" -- a squad, technically speaking -- in combat in varied terrain. It was very fast, fluid, and responsive. I see no reason why this type of RT combat couldn't be implemented in a role-playing game (other than it'd be a fair bit of work). There are plenty of other tactical games, both real-time and turn-based, to look at for inspiration.

The unfortunate fact is that party combat in most role-playing games is just pretty badly done. The reasons are historical -- you take a system that works, sort of, for a single character game, and then add more characters. This makes a mess of it. What should have been done is a complete redesign based on multi-character combat to start with.

This means better AI and a different design paradigm. For example, take your classic D&D-style RPG. What I'd *want* to be able to do is give each party member "standing orders" -- for example, my sorcerer should look for cover, hang back, and be the artillery; my rogue should look for high ground and attempt to sneak around and be the sniper; my tank should face the enemy head-on, and my cleric should support and heal the tank.

I should not have to micro-manage this behavior -- whenever combat starts, they should look for appropriate positions and take them. As combat proceeds, I should be able to order individual members, a part of the party, or the entire party to take up new positions by designating a new target area. If necessary, I should be able to give individual members specific orders -- for example, to tell the sorcerer to break cover and move to a new position, or give the rogue a new target area -- say, behind the enemy -- and get her to sneak her way there, using cover intelligently.

Note that this would work equally well in turn-based and real-time. The main change is pretty simple, really -- better AI and a squad-based command interface. Nothing that hasn't been done very well many times over.
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