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  1. Hi. I understand that RTwP has been confirmed for this game. But it might still be instructive to consider what are the weaknesses and strengths of each type of combat style. I am posting as essay here on these comparing these two based on arguments built from scratch. This was first posted on RPG codex some time back on a similar issue. Feel free to comment. Since we are talking about video games, please understand I will not associate the following discussion to games in general although a lot of these arguments wills till hold there. RTwP and Turn based are time-keeping devices in games. To understand the motivation of putting them in a game requires a set of tools that include a vocabulary and some concepts. First definitions: Let's define the following: Ideas: Tactics as positioning units and queuing actions for an event. Turn: Defined in those games where actions of units happen independently of each other and in a sequence determined statically or through an initiative roll. Round: When a game is NOT turn based then every unit takes a certain amount of time to finish its action. If all actions available to the unit are made to take the same time and simultaneous actions are allowed for multiple players, we call such an action a Round. Deep: Providing a large array of tactical options. When the actions are neither turn based or round based we will call then animation-time (AT) based actions. Genres: Adventure genre: Concerned with exploration, puzzle solving and interaction. ( Strategy: Resource management and tactics (e.g. HoM&M, JA) Action: Twitch based gameplay (do not involve tactics as defined above but rather instantaneous decisions e.g. Gothic games) Now to concepts. Good tactical games: The word tactical is quite broad. It can be used for any genre you can think of starting from action to strategy, but not so much in adventure. But to be qualitatively considerate it applies best to strategy genre. RPGs can be a mix between strategy, Adventure and action and then some other elements (typically tiered/leveling mechanics). Depending upon how much part of each had entered the RP game, the level of tactics required changes considerably. Games that focus on tactical combat require certain amount of 'consideration time' before action is taken. Thus, it makes sense to choose a time-keeping device for a game with respect to the number of tactical decisions available and the depth of such decisions. i.e. If the characters in the game under the player control can take a large number of possible actions and the same holds for the enemy then it makes sense to choose a time-keeping system that allows larger consideration times. Computers by default are always faster than the player. If in a continuous time keeping system with deterministic mechanics, such as Round based or AT based, the computer is given free reign, the player will NEVER win. Thus difficulty for these games is always artificial, in the sense that evenly matched characters in the game will always be biased towards computer victory. In evenly matched turn based games, where the results of actions are purely deterministic, the game will always have a fixed outcome (if there is no starting move bias) of draw if the player is an expert. Otherwise the computer will always win. Only in a game which has mechanics with random component to it, can a player have a chance to win. Games are (almost always) created to be winnable. Thus they always must have some level of artificial difficulty/ease. In order to retain element of challenge in tactical games, they are made to be restrictive in terms of strategies that can succeed. The typical aim of the game is to force the player to create/explore/discover winning strategies. Intuitively speaking, a game that allows a large variety of strategies and a significantly large variety of winning strategies is to be considered good because it provides more quality content overall. I will refer to two of these quantitative ideas often in this discussion: 1) Total number of allowed strategies (TS) 2) Ratio of winnable strategies / losing strategies (RS) I am hoping that it is obvious that the quality of games can be evaluated with these two numbers. The first is obvious. If the second number is in the range of (1/9 , 1/4) it will be better. Of course some might prefer even lower rate of success, but then TS must go up to compensate for lower values of RS. Please understand, this is a highly simplified descriptor of the real system, since the actual number of losing strategies in typical strategy games are infinite if the player is an idiot. Thus a certain level of smartness is assumed. Also, we are talking aboutRPG games that do not usually involve a large number of units in action (number of units < 10 ). If the number of units exceed 10-20 then the game is a pure strategy game and much more complex to discuss without further simplifications. We are discussing only games that provide some arbitrary level of challenge. Games that are un-challenging by this arbitrary standard are casual games. Unfortunately I am unable to enforce a condition of challenging onto you since there are people around who find combat of DA: O challenging. But it is always possible to create an artificial and relative scale by referring to one example. In this case we will make the combat of Witcher 2 as the example since it can offer ridiculously large amount of posterior pain from all circles for the common enjoyment of all. Also, it is important to consider at all points that games need not be realistic. i.e. it is not a priority of the design to make games realistic. The priority is rather that they are made to be fun for the intended group i.e. you don't make strategy games for action oriented players. After this has been achieved realism can be the topping but never the base. Alright. With this framework in mind we can now analyse how gameplay is affected by time-keeping. Actual Discussion: It should be clear by now that games do not always need to be strategic in nature. There are those who rather prefer playing purely twitch based games (genre of action). There are others who prefer more slow paced games (genre of strategy). Real time keeping can exist for either genre while turn based time keeping can only exist for strategy games. First let's discuss the TB system since it is the easiest to wind up: For a well designed game TB system automatically implies deep mechanics. Without the depth the game would become bland. This is a two way necessity (TB <-> Deep Mechanics) since if the developer wants to provide deep mechanics to the player, he should also allow the player the time to consider them. Thus a game with deeper mechanics ideally should be TB so thatTS are actually realized within the game. It now makes sense to state that games with large number of party members require a closer attention when each member has a large array of options. Since a battle is dynamic with the enemy also strategizing it is important to adopt to the situation. Now with larger and larger number of teammates it is progressive harder to maintain control of all actions. A game that has so many options but does not require you to use them is of course badly designed since its RS is too high for non-casual games. So just to be clear, if the party is made up of two guys with two options each (attack or defend) then there is little reason to make the game turn based. Real-time games: There is a large video games audience that plays games just to vent off steam. There is also another audience that plays games to vent of steam and feel like a little tactical challenge and a listening to a good story every once in a while. Real Time RPGs are typically oriented for the latter. Please do not misunderstand: these games DO require strategizing. But not strategizing the way tactical has been defined in this post. Thus an action game which necessitates preparation before a battle (potions, choice of weapons etc) is smart but not tactical in the same way as a game with party members with distribution of differing skills. The distinction is purely artificial to facilitate a clean division. I will claim that such games are best played with few party members (1- 4) and have less combat options per action. Sound heretical, but to me, it is a good design decision with the time-keeping system in mind. A game that offers 10 options per action and is real time driven without pause would make no sense to have all these options, because to win you'd either require to cripple the AI severely or have a hand-eye coordination + genius of batman. This is so because the Computer has instantaneous, absolute and precise control of its units, while a human being can meaningfully control one unit at a given point of time. Thus what he can do, the AI can do better. Crippling the AI risks the game becoming casual (although some level of crippling is always necessary). A Real time system with Pause introduces some level of fine control over the actions of the units. It now allows to issue orders, all the while synchronizing them periodically thus preparing for long term combat. AT based games that do not use a standard time-keeping devices, lose synchronicity faster since the units end their actions at different times thus forcing tighter control over action. That is why I presume a Round based system becomes necessary. It is interesting to note the apparent inspiration of the idea of a round from the idea of a turn. Round is a one sided time-keeping device that allows greater synchronicity or at least a temporal scale for the player to control his units. Even if individual units are not synchronized, rounds act like mini alarms giving the player a breathing space. The problem with them is of course again the AI and the number of options. Those who play NWN2 see this often. The Units if left with even slight freedom start acting up with their 'in-duh-viduality' by casting nuking spells or AOE spells on their own party, running heedlessly into enemy Area of Free Attack zone or buffing themselves up un-necessarily. It is of course sometimes necessary for Units to act on their own. But since the correct balance between automation and tactics is hard to achieve (or you'd have skynet) these things typically do not work out as expected. The solution to that in IWD was that AI was overall too dumb and relied on strong but small 'organised' (scattered but balanced) mobs instead. But again this is a sub-optimal solution. There are indirect ways to take care of these issues: The first is to exploit the idea of the Round as a time-keeping device. Since Rounds are required to create synchronous and provide 'consideration time', by making everyone's rounds last longer it is possible to make the game more controllable. This automatically reduces the game play speed, which again has to be balanced with gameplay so that it is not overtly slow. Interestingly DA:O to DA2 transition is the travesty of this idea where slow round speeds were replaced with bad AI and restricted spamming to compensate for the lack of tactical combat to achieve faster game mechanics. Another way of dealing with the problem is small parties. With a single player character or two player character parties, it becomes easier to get a handle on the situation and micromanage effectively. Three is where probably the line is crossed although this may be a little preferential. Conclusion: Thus it makes sense to have both kinds of time keeping devices for games as long as they are being developed for the right audience. Video games are a relatively nascent form of expression and will require a lot of guidance and experience that can only come from developing and playing bad games. It is the ability to identify the exact ingredients and the context of the elements that create poor games that will save gaming as a whole from Bioware and co.
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