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Dragon Age-style Tactics and other non-pause combat interfaces?


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So I was thinking about this just now. A commenter (Starwars, in the 'spell cutscene' thread http://forums.obsidian.net/topic/60646-spell-cut-scenes/) said that "I hope something Project Eternity will do is to have as little interruptions to the gameplay as possible. No cutscenes or other things that constantly takes away control from the player."

 

This made me think. Although I love making chess-like tactics, I also love relatively simple ways of doing combat. As in: the pause button may be there, but if given the choice, I'd rather not use it if I could deal with the combat on-the-fly, to really be involved in-the-moment rather than being the floating observer in the sky pausing the action, thinking about my next move for half an hour, before ordering everyone perfectly (I exaggerate, but still...).

 

So I was wondering about whether or not it is possible to cater to both these play-styles, and if so, if that would be favored by most people.

 

My first thought:

 

Dragon Age Origins had this great mechanic of tactics where you could assign several orders to people that they would do if their trigger-conditions were met (example: if ally's health under 25%, do uber awesome heal, or: if 4 enemies in close proximity of each other, do the freezing area-of-effect spell to freeze them). That way you could issue your strategic orders without stopping the action with a pause and keeping the flow going. Plus, it added believability: characters were able to act relatively intelligently and independently from the player.

 

Then I got round to thinking about SWTOR and its combat interface: skills are bound to the hotkeys of 1 through 0 and has a highly customizable interface so that data and skills could be accessed without much trouble.

 

But then again, if there really ARE going to be parties with 4 through 6 (if I remember correctly this was mentioned somewhere?) members, then that would become quite the challenge to control without breaking the flow by pausing.. (though the aforementioned tactics could be interesting for the exact same reason).

 

So... Thoughts/opinions on this subject?

 

- Tim

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The Infinity games had scripts you could apply to your characters that they would carry out depending on circumstances, even out of combat, just like DAO.

 

The only problem with the core games was that the scripts were not very complicated and the game often had problems activating the scripts due to the game itself, walls, small space, objects etc.

 

I think DAO was designed with much more open areas, very rarely did you have halls or caves with barely enough room for 1 or 2 characters to move through, perhaps they gave a lot of thought to that during design.

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As I remember, in Icewind dale and baldur's gate there were different custom settings for tactics and aggression. Clerics could be set to heal as the default and when a party member was injured he'd heal her or if you preferred you could set them to use certain spells in preference to others.

 

I would certainly hope these are part of the game since with out them combat would indeed become pause fests where you had to micro manage your party or nothing would get done.

 

Personally I would love to be able to set my own character to act independently of my input. that way I'd be able to watch the whole fight and make strategic decisions rather than having to spend all my time controlling one character at the expense of a faster battle or dead NPCs.

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@OP; just for info, SWTOR is probably one of the least customizable games around.

 

I'd rather give each party member skills that you can choose up to 4 or 6 (to avoid the complexity) and go on with pause-real time format.

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Having a game-speed-while-in-combat slider would probably be all that's needed to deal with either preference. I'd certainly try both ways if possible. Not that I wouldn't be fine with the repeated pausing, but there's some merit in a slow-RTS style, thinking of things like the Close Combat or Gettysburg games. I think that Mechwarrior RTS was pretty slow too, but I only played the demo and then only briefly.

 

 

Did BG/2 have a speed slider by the way?

 

 

EDIT: Odd as it is to bring up The Sims in this context, I think its speed options are well done: 5 discrete speeds laid out logically at your fingertips and designed to be used dynamically, instead of being a global option hidden in a menu, pause-slow-medium-fast-fastuntilsomethinginterestinghappens.

Edited by Humanoid

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Having a game-speed-while-in-combat slider would probably be all that's needed to deal with either preference. I'd certainly try both ways if possible. Not that I wouldn't be fine with the repeated pausing, but there's some merit in a slow-RTS style, thinking of things like the Close Combat or Gettysburg games. I think that Mechwarrior RTS was pretty slow too, but I only played the demo and then only briefly.

 

 

Did BG/2 have a speed slider by the way?

 

 

EDIT: Odd as it is to bring up The Sims in this context, I think its speed options are well done: 5 discrete speeds laid out logically at your fingertips and designed to be used dynamically, instead of being a global option hidden in a menu, pause-slow-medium-fast-fastuntilsomethinginterestinghappens.

 

So something similar to the Total War series of games? Where there is a pause, a slow, a normal, a fast, and a doublefast option for gameplay speed? In this case I suppose you could scrap the double fast in favor of a few more slower options, but a slider would be ideal if it were integrated anyways.

 

@OP; just for info, SWTOR is probably one of the least customizable games around.

 

Starwars was the name of the poster who gave the OP the idea for the thread. The Old Republic was never mentioned. >.>

 

Edit: I also wholeheartedly agree with the OP. The DAO feature was a godsend and I would love for something like it to make an appearance in Project Eternity.

Edited by AzureWatcher
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Never played any of the Total War games so I can't give a reliable answer, but probably yes. I guess Homeworld might be another example? Again not personally having played it. In essence it's really having your tactical assignments phase be done under slowed-down conditions rather than a total pause, though players would be free to play the whole thing slowed-down if they had the patience.

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Having a game-speed-while-in-combat slider would probably be all that's needed to deal with either preference. I'd certainly try both ways if possible. Not that I wouldn't be fine with the repeated pausing, but there's some merit in a slow-RTS style, thinking of things like the Close Combat or Gettysburg games. I think that Mechwarrior RTS was pretty slow too, but I only played the demo and then only briefly.

 

 

Did BG/2 have a speed slider by the way?

 

 

EDIT: Odd as it is to bring up The Sims in this context, I think its speed options are well done: 5 discrete speeds laid out logically at your fingertips and designed to be used dynamically, instead of being a global option hidden in a menu, pause-slow-medium-fast-fastuntilsomethinginterestinghappens.

 

So something similar to the Total War series of games? Where there is a pause, a slow, a normal, a fast, and a doublefast option for gameplay speed? In this case I suppose you could scrap the double fast in favor of a few more slower options, but a slider would be ideal if it were integrated anyways.

 

@OP; just for info, SWTOR is probably one of the least customizable games around.

 

Starwars was the name of the poster who gave the OP the idea for the thread. The Old Republic was never mentioned. >.>

 

Edit: I also wholeheartedly agree with the OP. The DAO feature was a godsend and I would love for something like it to make an appearance in Project Eternity.

 

It was. It's hillarious when you can't spend 30 seconds to read a post but still feel obliged to answer.

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So I was wondering about whether or not it is possible to cater to both these play-styles, and if so, if that would be favored by most people.

The difficulty levels mostly take care of this. Even in the Baldur's Gate series, you could play mostly without pausing on the lowest difficulty. Beyond that, it is not really possible: having scripts (a-la Dragon Age: Origins or Baldur's Gate) is nice and I am pretty sure these will be there, but for the game to be really interesting, it has to force you to think a little bit which, with 6 characters, means that you are either one of those 300+ APM StarCraft players or you need to pause.

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(...) you could assign several orders to people that they would do if their trigger-conditions were met (...)

 

This is rather common in jRPGs. Actually I don't like the system. It makes you think about each possible battle beforehand. I usually had two slots filled with healing and some simple buffs that's it. However I think that what you propose is a good idea if coupled with the active pause which I like. This way the player has the choice: Either automate their companions, or issue orders directly.

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The tactics system in Dragon Age: Origins was one of those things I think it did very, very, very well - perhaps excepting that it was tied to skills.

 

Really, all it really is is an easy-to-use scripting system for combat. Lots of games have similar things, but it is usually clumsy or hard to use effectively.

 

I'd really love something along the lines of the tactics system in DA:O, just not tied to skills or character advancement.

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I prefer to do ALL of the actions myself, but YMMV.

 

For instance, see enemy casting mirror image, pause game asap and get someone to try and interrupt the spell during casting.

Edited by Sensuki
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A lot of people will probably hate on this. But I"m for it, I've always prefered more realtime, as it just makes it flow that more better, and gets me in the moment more. However pausing is needed.

 

Agreed. I love pausing. But at the same time I'd want things to be so accessible and intuitive that if I wanted to, I wouldn't have to pause at all. There's no pause button in real life, so pausing in game, especially in the flow and hectic nature of combat just seems so artificial and, at worst, sometimes even immersion breaking to me. While it's fun to have things go absolutely optimally, but that's just not how things work, and to me, unpredictability, sub-optimal solutions, and adaptability in combat are things that make a game more interesting and engaging.

 

So, for example @ Sensuki: while disrupting mirror image is optimal, doesn't it just turn up the adrenaline and the 'oh crap!'-factor more if the mirror image is successful and a whole new dimension of combat is introduced? Or, on the other hand, wouldn't you just throw up your hands in joy if, in the turmoil of combat, you manage to do it on time in the real-time flow yourself, or having your companions tactic-it on their own and seeing your well planned out tactics succeed? :)

 

Oh, and the hate doesn't seem to be that bad... If there at all...

 

Here's some lovin' for all you civilized folks: <3

:p

 

 

@OP; just for info, SWTOR is probably one of the least customizable games around.

 

Shows what I know ;p

Edited by TimB99
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DAO's tactics system is a wonderful thing, partly because it's not so hard to grasp. I'm really not the best script-writer, I prefer doinf things manually, yet I enjoyed the tactics system immensely and experimented with it quite a lot (there's even a skill there expanding the number of tactics slots, and a very useful one at that). So I would definitely love such a thing in PE. It's a wise compromise between smart tactical combat and the joy of real-time massacre.

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The tactics in DA were too simple. There was no AND or OR. And by the time you had enough slots to compensate it was no longer relevant.

I had to turn most of it off or else my companions would constantly blow their loads on a measly minion.

If such is implemented I can only hope that it's done proper and done well.

 

Now different combat speeds to compliment the ability to pause, that sounds more promising.

Edited by Knott
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Bioware's idea of attaching basic game usability to the characters' skill tree was very, very dumb.

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Didn't really get on with Dragon Age's tactics system for various reasons, but one thing that really rubs my rhubarb about fairly much every game is when you're put in control of soldiers or a militia. No sooner have you turned your back than the morons have charged forth from a defensible location into the fire pits you've had dug, archers leading the charge, and are happily roasting en masse. Honestly they shackle you, you're more effective when not babysitting the creche. The logical thing would seem to be having general orders, such as stand your ground, advance, fire, rally etcetera. Beats relying on the all too easily flummoxed AI.

 

I don't even want to think about escort missions.

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I always wiped all the tactics options from my companions so that they wouldn't start doing something other than what I wanted at a critical moment. Maybe it's because I got my start at party-based, tactical combat in fully turn-based games, but I usually dislike not having complete control over what my chess pieces are doing. It works sometimes if it's a character quirk, like when Buzz would occasionally get bloodthirsty and go full-auto on everyone in JA2, but in as a general rule, I want to be the one in control of the troops.

 

Still, it takes all kinds, so if you guys want such a system, it's inclusion wouldn't bother me since I won't have to use it (assuming it's toggleable like in the IE and DA games).

Edited by eimatshya
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So I was thinking about this just now. A commenter (Starwars, in the 'spell cutscene' thread http://forums.obsidi...ell-cut-scenes/) said that "I hope something Project Eternity will do is to have as little interruptions to the gameplay as possible. No cutscenes or other things that constantly takes away control from the player."

 

This made me think. Although I love making chess-like tactics, I also love relatively simple ways of doing combat. As in: the pause button may be there, but if given the choice, I'd rather not use it if I could deal with the combat on-the-fly, to really be involved in-the-moment rather than being the floating observer in the sky pausing the action, thinking about my next move for half an hour, before ordering everyone perfectly (I exaggerate, but still...).

 

So I was wondering about whether or not it is possible to cater to both these play-styles, and if so, if that would be favored by most people.

 

My first thought:

 

Dragon Age Origins had this great mechanic of tactics where you could assign several orders to people that they would do if their trigger-conditions were met (example: if ally's health under 25%, do uber awesome heal, or: if 4 enemies in close proximity of each other, do the freezing area-of-effect spell to freeze them). That way you could issue your strategic orders without stopping the action with a pause and keeping the flow going. Plus, it added believability: characters were able to act relatively intelligently and independently from the player.

 

Then I got round to thinking about SWTOR and its combat interface: skills are bound to the hotkeys of 1 through 0 and has a highly customizable interface so that data and skills could be accessed without much trouble.

 

But then again, if there really ARE going to be parties with 4 through 6 (if I remember correctly this was mentioned somewhere?) members, then that would become quite the challenge to control without breaking the flow by pausing.. (though the aforementioned tactics could be interesting for the exact same reason).

 

So... Thoughts/opinions on this subject?

 

- Tim

I think it's a really BAD idea and the game would suffer greatly from its implementation.It is NOT just an optional feature you can just ignore if you don't like it since the quality of the encounters and the individual enemies would need to watered down to fit to a playstyle based on tactics slots.Why?Let's look at DAO:the problem with the combat of that game were:

-simplicistic individual enemies that did little more than stand in front of you and use their basic attack(think about wolves,darkspawn,humans,...).Why?Because said enemies had to fit to a playstyle that lacks the complexity and the precision of full micro-management of your party.You don't need much of that with such enemies. -simplicistic encounters.Again it all boils down to accomodating a play-style that excludes (for the most part)thinking about the specific fight.Guess what happens when you don't have to think much about the specifics of the encounter but only about what your abilities do,HPs(yours and the enemies')?Tactics suffer.

-fights were repetitive:the reason is that they wanted you to just get done withsetting tactics slots once so you didn't have to look at menus ever again(tipical Bioware).Just think about how similar common enemies were from a mechanical perspective despite looking so different(humans,spiders,wolves,bears,darkspawn,...or even worse:an ogre and an high dragon required almost the same tactics).

 

Of course you might say that on hard/nightmare you needed yo actively manage the party but that was due to cheap HP bloating.The problems above were still there and those who wanted a more complex experience(like this game should be) had to endure them(and HPs bloating too).

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Personally I loved the gambits in Final Fantasy XII ... I can't believe they did away with such a subtle system of AI for companions.

 

Unfortunately, too much automation in your party can result in the sense that anyone can get through the game just by copying down the optimal tactics.

 

That said, I generally hate games that demand a lot of real-time combat (such as Action RPGs). I'm more of a turn-based type, and I think in any case that's closer to P:E's influences. I don't mind clicking through each party member's action screen on pause ... that's very much what I've used to from JRPGs.

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Bioware's idea of attaching basic game usability to the characters' skill tree was very, very dumb.

Why?

Being able to trade is basic usability, but being able to trade well requires points in Charisma.

Being able to fight is basic usability, but being able to fight well requires points in Melee.

Being able to remember an algorithm is basic usability, but being able to remember an extended one requires points in Tactics.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, yes, yes! If I can add any one feature to this game, this would be it! I truly enjoy setting up complex AI behaviour for all of my companions then watch them fight it out. If I ever come upon a hard encounter, I will pause, disable it, and give orders myself.

 

This is an added feature and should no way make the enemy AI any dumber or make the game based around these AI tactics as one person suggested.

 

Keep in mind folks all the Infinity Engine games HAD this feature, though it was quite limited and required some scripting experience. Dragon Age: Origins and Final Finatasy 12 did this right by adding an easy to use interface. Also make sure we can do ORs and ANDs easy enough.

 

This feature gets my vote! :thumbsup:

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I wouldn't mind a Fallout/Fallout 2 styled turn-based system, although I know that I'm unlikely to get that.

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