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December 2nd, 2006, 17:40
Turn-based and real-time are two different beasts.

Real-time games are too fast, especially when you have a large number of powers or abilities available, which means a lot of quick keys to manage, or several mouse clicks to use them. If I have to take my hand off WASD to reach a key, I have to look at the keyboard, otherwise I'm going to hit the wrong key a fair portion of the time. Or with mouse control, I have to stop clicking the monsters to death to switch out powers. All the while, the combat rages on. I have to effectively stop engaging in combat for a second or more to do anything, and the pacing of most games means you're dead by the time you're back to being focused on the combat.

Plus the rate of health loss in such games tends to mean I end up with my eyes glued to the health meter (almost always in the far corner of the screen). That way I can hit the chug-a-health-potion button every 2-3 seconds to stay alive. Are there fancy spell animations? Elaborate melee combo animations? I wouldn't know, I'm virtually never watching my character.

Combat in real-time games is too fast for strategy if there is no working pause option.

Turn-based can be too slow, and it's always because of UI and animation issues. To issue a command, you may need to click through several sub-menus -- or worse, have context menus that require hovering the mouse for a couple seconds for the menu to pop-up. Spell/combat animations almost always have to play out in full before the next character's move. "Slow" monsters may shuffle along to prove to you they're slow. Games often suffer by forcing you into long battles with suicidal low-level opponents, where you have to wait for all of them to charge up, then you kill them all off in one area-effect spell. Or they panic and flee, and you have to wait multiple turns for them to flee off the edge of the map (or worse, they flee to some out-of-sight location, never leave the map, and combat never ends until you tediously hunt them down and kill them).

Turn-based games need to be faster. Allow combat/spell animations to overlap with other moves. Provide lots of hot keys on screen, preferably with meaningful icons. Allow multiple characters/monsters to move at the same time. Provide an auto-action option -- repeat the last action, or default to whacking the nearest opponent with a melee weapon, so the player only needs to click the OK button to perform the action. Wiz8 had fully automatic combat mode, which was useful for dealing with packs of low-level opponents, or finishing off the stragglers at the end of a long fight.

I far prefer turn-based, since I'm able to think, make choices, and pay attention to what's going on. But I hardly ever see a game provide more than one or two helpful options with combat, then they always add on a pack of annoyances to drag the pacing back down.

I rather liked the melee pacing in Arx, since it was slower than I've seen in any other FPS-style game, with lots of slow back-n-forthing. But it stopped making a difference once you picked up magic skill. For pretty much any other game, furiously clicking monsters to death is the only option if I'm not allowed to pause the game and switch powers/tactics/equipment.
Last edited by Stanza; December 2nd, 2006 at 17:46.
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