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Great to see such detailed info and developer feedback on the reasons behind it. There are a couple of issues I would like to add though:

 

Graphics/Resolution

While there's been lots of discussion about high-end displays, not so much has been said about low-end. The base resolution of 1280x720 does exclude the common netbook 1024x600 screen (as has been pointed out) but also rules out UMPCs with smaller (e.g. 800x480) screens. As long as PE supports the same screen-panning options (with arrow keys) that the Infinity Engine games did, it shouldn't be necessary to impose any resolution minimum - instead scale the UI elements to the available space and show as much of the map as space allows. Playing on low-resolution screens would then be possible, though trickier (retaining the IE options to hide the UI being a great help here).

 

One issue that hasn't been raised so far is in-game movies/cutscenes with a fixed resolution (e.g. original BG1 intro). If PE is going to use these, it'll definitely need multiple formats to cover the resolution range envisaged - if a simpler/cheaper alternative is planned (static picture with voiceover like most of the BG2 intro) then that could be scaled as needed.

 

Inventory

The hierarchical system proposed sounds great in principle - as long as "equipment" (the part accessible in combat) allows for some non-weapon items (e.g. wands, oil flasks, holy water, etc) to be available too. The "rest of stash" should have some size/quantity restrictions (to force players to decide on what is worth keeping or not) though these may be increased in-game (by buying a mule or other pack animal - which would then have to be protected in subsequent combats).

 

Class Abilities - Spellcasting

To judge from the description given, priests and wizards will not need to choose and memorise spells before casting - making them more like NWN2 sorcerors/favoured souls. If so, then I think that's a great idea - the D&D requirement to memorise spells beforehand penalised creative spell use by limiting casters to "safe" spell choices, almost invariably combat-related. If casters are given a real choice of using a spell slot to open a stuck door, mindread a suspicious NPC or keeping it in reserve for future combat, then the game will be better for it.

 

Pause Restrictions

A really bad idea - if players wish to micro-manage then that should be their privilege. And whether they micro-manage or not, they're still going to need pause for toilet/meal breaks so restricting it should be an absolute no-no.

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While there's been lots of discussion about high-end displays, not so much has been said about low-end. The base resolution of 1280x720 does exclude the common netbook 1024x600 screen (as has been pointed out) but also rules out UMPCs with smaller (e.g. 800x480) screens. As long as PE supports the same screen-panning options (with arrow keys) that the Infinity Engine games did, it shouldn't be necessary to impose any resolution minimum - instead scale the UI elements to the available space and show as much of the map as space allows. Playing on low-resolution screens would then be possible, though trickier (retaining the IE options to hide the UI being a great help here).

 

Netbooks and UMPCs aren't for gaming, they don't usually have a powerful enough GPU. We don't know the minimum specifications, Obsidian probably doesn't either. The new netbooks are 1366x768, any UMPC you'd consider running Project Eternity on has a resolution of 1280x720 or higher. We don't know whether smaller screens are feasible considering the gameplay and ranges. Truth is you can't develop a game for 800x480 and 2560x1440 easily, there's already been sacrifices without supporting resolutions no one will use.

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Netbooks and UMPCs aren't for gaming, they don't usually have a powerful enough GPU. We don't know the minimum specifications, Obsidian probably doesn't either.
Netbook/UMPC GPUs aren't great, true - but for 2D/2.5D games they don't need to be. IE games can be played on UMPCs currently - a good example being GemRB on OpenPandora (and that's with a 4.3-inch 800x480 screen).

 

If the interests of gamers with super hi-res screens merit consideration, then so do those who want to be able to play PE on the move.

The new netbooks are 1366x768, any UMPC you'd consider running Project Eternity on has a resolution of 1280x720 or higher.
For 13+ inch screen Ultrabooks, yes but not for those with smaller screens (8-inch or less) which is more practical for on-the-go usage.
Truth is you can't develop a game for 800x480 and 2560x1440 easily, there's already been sacrifices without supporting resolutions no one will use.
It's perfectly possible with good UI design. Look at Age of Wonders which can handle resolutions from 640x480 all the way up to 2560x1600 (yes, I've played it at both extremes). It's UI scales up proportionately while the map screen shows a larger area on bigger screens (since fog-of-war is implemented, this doesn't offer an in-game advantage but does lessen the need to scroll about). The challenge here is more about differing aspect ratios, but since PE intends to cover 4:3 through to 16:9 (and I believe multi-monitor also) that's already covered.

 

Given that PE is committed to an isometric viewpoint, its need for 3D acceleration should be limited (IWD/BG2 used OpenGL for optional spell effects) so accommodating UMPC/netbooks should come down to not imposing a minimum resolution and making optional any features requiring more graphics power. That hardly seems to be asking much.

Edited by AstralWanderer
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Netbook/UMPC GPUs aren't great, true - but for 2D/2.5D games they don't need to be. IE games can be played on UMPCs currently - a good example being GemRB on OpenPandora (and that's with a 4.3-inch 800x480 screen).

 

Even 2D games vary in how intensive they are, you can't really say what specification is required from a game being 2D or 2.5D, some fully 3D games will require less resources than Project Eternity, the characters are 3000 polygons, that's more than some games entire maps. IE games are old, they were designed for 640x480, Project Eternity is going to be released in 2014, it makes no sense referring to IE games in terms of performance required.

 

If the interests of gamers with super hi-res screens merit consideration, then so do those who want to be able to play PE on the move.

 

That's not what's happening. Obsidian has seen that 2560x1440 screens are going to be common enough in 2014 and beyond that they warrant support and it's not a lot of work from 1920x1080 (the most common PC gaming resolution). Any higher than that and the screen doesn't get special support, people will just be able to see more of the map, as what happens with many old isometric games when they get unofficial high resolution support, there's very little extra work in terms of assets or engine to make that happen.

 

For 13+ inch screen Ultrabooks, yes but not for those with smaller screens (8-inch or less) which is more practical for on-the-go usage.

 

Netbooks are dead, they're being replaced by tablets and ultrabooks, 10-13" (or 9.6" to 13.6") running at 1280x720 or higher. How much more practical are 8" screens vs 10" screens? Some tablets will be released that are 8" or under, but who is gaming on them? Which ones could conceivably run Project Eternity? What resolution will they be running at in 2014?

 

It's perfectly possible with good UI design. Look at Age of Wonders which can handle resolutions from 640x480 all the way up to 2560x1600 (yes, I've played it at both extremes). It's UI scales up proportionately while the map screen shows a larger area on bigger screens (since fog-of-war is implemented, this doesn't offer an in-game advantage but does lessen the need to scroll about). The challenge here is more about differing aspect ratios, but since PE intends to cover 4:3 through to 16:9 (and I believe multi-monitor also) that's already covered.

 

Age of Wonders is a 2D tile based turn based game? That game does not face the challenges Project Eternity has, for example, in a turn based game you don't need to worry about real time attacks at ranges beyond a small resolution on a small screen. It was designed for resolutions of 640x480, 800x600, and 1024x768. Project Eternity is designed for 1366x768, 1600x900, 1980x1080, the most common resolution for gamers (and 2560x1440 which is the near future). That old games can run at higher resolutions than they were designed for is not a logical argument for new games being able to run at lower ersolutions than they were designed for.

 

Given that PE is committed to an isometric viewpoint, its need for 3D acceleration should be limited (IWD/BG2 used OpenGL for optional spell effects) so accommodating UMPC/netbooks should come down to not imposing a minimum resolution and making optional any features requiring more graphics power. That hardly seems to be asking much.

 

Need for 3D acceleration should be limited compared to Far Cry 3. XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Magicka are isometric games with high minimum specifications even in regards to desktops, let alone 8" netbooks. You don't know what kind of models, textures, normal maps, shaders, filters, shadows, and lighting Project Eternity is going to have. It's going to be very different to IWD/BG2 in terms of technology, there's going to be intensive procedures that you can't just turn off.

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Of course I think it would be ridiculous to limit mouse clicks and reading item and ability descriptions in this game (while limiting combat commands, on the other hand, is only sensible, and was already being done in the IE games outside of movement and cancelling). Come on, you are just trying to obfuscate what is and is not a resource mechanic in order to deny my point.

Yes, and there have always been boundaries set on resources in those games. RtwP was introduced as a sort of compromise between a consistent "physical reality" in the game world vs Pen and Paper rules which have no spatial dimension. If you're not going to at least simulate "turns" or "rounds" (can you really do this properly in a game with free movement?) then it only makes sense to draw boundaries somewhere else. The command pause mechanic is the most obvious place to draw boundaries when you are trying to balance how the player will manage commands in real time tactical combat.

No pausing always gives you an advantage, albeit one which can be more or less significant based on what is happening in combat.

 

Although I admit my limited mouse click comparison veered toward reducto ad absurdum, I wasn't trying to obfuscate anything. I'm just saying that when I originally read your idea, my monocle popped out and I spit tea all over my monitor. It really did seem like a weird and bothersome suggestion, and you haven't yet convinced me (or anyone else, it seems, although the sample size is admittedly small) of the idea's worth.

 

I'm still having trouble figuring out how being able to pause at any time gives a clear advantage over a turn-based setup, so can you walk me through that? I mean, once you've given orders to all of your party members, pausing doesn't really help you anymore until they've carried out those orders. So isn't that in effect a turn in a turn-based game, except everything is happening simultaneously including enemy actions? I'd understand your point if pausing more frequently meant your party could perform more actions, but it doesn't. There comes a point where there's simply nothing left to do in a pause, and if the need to babysit the party is eliminated, that point comes sooner and lasts longer than it otherwise would.

 

Not just a checkbox, but a reasonably balanced difficulty option.

 

Well that would be a lot more work, so given the fact that the IE games didn't limit pauses and the developers have never mentioned the idea and so far everyone in this thread that has commented on it has disagreed, I think you probably need to explain it better if you want it to have a chance. Good luck!

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The game pausing thing is very much one of those "if you want it, you should restrict yourself" kind of things. If you're interested in the challenge provided with limited-pauses, you can go ahead and place that limit on yourself. RT with unlimited pause has worked effectively in the past without sacrificing gameplay or challenge. While I hate this argument, I feel that it works here: don't railroad other players into your own playstyle. If you want to limit your pauses, go ahead. Don't force others to play that way.

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My blog is where I'm keeping a record of all of my suggestions and bug mentions.

http://hormalakh.blogspot.com/  UPDATED 9/26/2014

My DXdiag:

http://hormalakh.blogspot.com/2014/08/beta-begins-v257.html

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The game pausing thing is very much one of those "if you want it, you should restrict yourself" kind of things. If you're interested in the challenge provided with limited-pauses, you can go ahead and place that limit on yourself. RT with unlimited pause has worked effectively in the past without sacrificing gameplay or challenge. While I hate this argument, I feel that it works here: don't railroad other players into your own playstyle. If you want to limit your pauses, go ahead. Don't force others to play that way.

 

This. The first thing that came to my mind was a self-enforced Ironman mode.

 

Maybe if you're really serious about it, there could be a little timer every time you initiate pause. No mechanic that restricts any player, simply something that gives you an indication of how dependant you are on pausing. If you feel you need to challenge yourself more, aim for a shorter pause.

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At least the isometric view removes one of the reasons for pausing: rotating the camera to see what is going on. Another reason for pausing is to see what sequence of actions your characters are up to. Drakensang did a decent job of communicating this by showing action icons next to the character portraits. The problem there, of course, is that you had to keep looking up from the battle to see the character portraits. I'm not sure if there is a better way to communicate this information, besides the animation sequences. Shrug. In the IE games it helped that spell casting was made obvious.

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Even 2D games vary in how intensive they are, you can't really say what specification is required from a game being 2D or 2.5D...

You can say that lack of 3D means less work for a GPU so the emphasis will be on the CPU instead.

 

...there's very little extra work in terms of assets or engine to make that happen.

And the same applies to smaller screen support too - no extra assets needed, just allow the UI to render at a smaller scale and keep it as configurable (i.e. hideable) as with the IE engines.

 

Netbooks are dead, they're being replaced by tablets and ultrabooks, 10-13" (or 9.6" to 13.6") running at 1280x720 or higher. How much more practical are 8" screens vs 10" screens? Some tablets will be released that are 8" or under, but who is gaming on them?...

Intel may be pushing Ultrabooks for all they're worth but that doesn't make them a success (see Analysts slash Ultrabook sales estimate by over 50%). If there is a trend, it is towards more portable appliances. Tablets/smartphones score better here but, lacking a keyboard, are poor for any task requiring text input (at least Obsidian haven't offered touch-friendly controls - those would require significant UI compromises). So neither can replace a small-screen laptop/UMPC for more sophisticated gaming.

 

Age of Wonders is a 2D tile based turn based game? That game does not face the challenges Project Eternity has, for example, in a turn based game you don't need to worry about real time attacks at ranges beyond a small resolution on a small screen. It was designed for resolutions of 640x480, 800x600, and 1024x768....That old games can run at higher resolutions than they were designed for is not a logical argument for new games being able to run at lower ersolutions than they were designed for.

 

It shows that it is possible to have a highly scalable UI - being turn based is frankly irrelevant given that (a) PE offers unlimited pause and (b) IE games suffer the same disadvantage re long range attacks at lower resolutions. As long as you can pan the screen, the game remains playable - if a little more challenging. That's a small price to pay for the ability to play PE anywhere.

 

Need for 3D acceleration should be limited compared to Far Cry 3. XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Magicka are isometric games with high minimum specifications even in regards to desktops, let alone 8" netbooks....

 

Far Cry 3 is first-person perspective and X-Com uses third-person perspective so both are inappropriate comparisons. Only Magicka can be said to be isometric and that looks like it offers variable view (zoom/rotate) so it will require more GPU horsepower than fixed view isometric - even then its minimum GPU requirements (Geforce 8800/Radeon X1900) are modest by today's standards. So PE should be able to manage with a lower spec GPU and if options like environmental effects (water animation, lighting/shadows) are made optional, there's little reason why it shouldn't be able to run on the lowest class of GPUs. It won't look as pretty, but for those gaming on-the-go, that will likely be a price worth paying.

...You don't know what kind of models, textures, normal maps, shaders, filters, shadows, and lighting Project Eternity is going to have...

From the statements and screenshots supplied so far, we can tell that PE is going to be fixed view isometric which means if 3D is used at all, it will be for character sprites, environmental and spell effects. If the latter two can be disabled (and I see no reason why they can't be) then the 3D resource requirements will be very modest indeed - unless you can somehow justify using a multi-megabyte texture on a 1-inch high character sprite...

 

Going to the debate on weapon damage, one option to improve piercing weapons could be to offer fighters a Targeted Attack skill, giving them bonuses to bypass armour (by knowing and targeting weak points). Such a skill would, if successfully used, provide a bonus to armour penetration for all weapon types but a greater one for piercing weapons. It would only work on opponents with weak spots so would not help with special/magical enemies (golems, elementals, non-corporeals) but might be the only way to defeat certain enemies (e.g. a magic-resistant construct whose only weakness is a small metal plate covering the gem used to animate it).

Edited by AstralWanderer
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It doesn't matter what the developers do; somebody isn't going to like it. Squeaky wheels are going to squeak. :)

True. The only difference here would be if Obsidian was taking the project in a different direction than was previously let on - that's not going to happen though, at least I don't think so. The changes would have to be pretty radical to be out of order with the KS campaign.

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I mean, once you've given orders to all of your party members, pausing doesn't really help you anymore until they've carried out those orders.

And once they've carried out the orders, you'll need to give them new orders. Not to mention pausing allows you to change those orders right away if you screw up or need to make adjustments, assuming that the combat system isn't one that simulates "rounds" or "turns". It all depends on what combat looks like, of course. And there is always an advantage in pause, at the very least, in being able to stop and think about what's going on, without having to deal with more developments as they happen.

 

So isn't that in effect a turn in a turn-based game, except everything is happening simultaneously including enemy actions? I'd understand your point if pausing more frequently meant your party could perform more actions, but it doesn't.

You mean like in the IE games, where rounds and turns are simulated? If individual party members execute commands at different intervals, then no, it's not like a turn based game. And the issue with the IE games has always been the stuff that players could do between turns, or else felt like they should be able to do between turns but could not. The problems with targeting and cancelling commands (by the player) in the middle of turns are solvable with some fine tuning, but the bigger issue with free movement and spatial/timing calculations is not.

 

There comes a point where there's simply nothing left to do in a pause, and if the need to babysit the party is eliminated, that point comes sooner and lasts longer than it otherwise would.

Are you suggesting that pause won't be needed at all, and that the devs should just get rid of pausing, or limit it to a few times per combat? LOL. Any way you cut it, there is value attached to command pauses, and what that value looks like should determine how the command pause mechanic works, and also vice versa, to a much lesser extent. Obviously, these things should be designed and balanced in ways that are sensible.

 

Well that would be a lot more work, so given the fact that the IE games didn't limit pauses and the developers have never mentioned the idea and so far everyone in this thread that has commented on it has disagreed, I think you probably need to explain it better if you want it to have a chance.

Lol, what am I supposed to be explaining? It should be obvious to anyone with at least half a brain how putting some limit or other on activating pauses and/or issuing commands during pause could impact the combat system.

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Lets remember that there's a sizable portion of us kickstarter backers who wanted turn-based combat. Turn-based, of course, *forces* combat pauses every time its the player's turn to attack. By Employing real time with pause, Obsidian is admittedly offering up the most logical compromise: allowing real-time fans to enjoy uninterrupable combat flow, while giving turn based fans the ability to emulate turn-based combat by pausing whenever they want (to issue orders, think about their next attack, etc.)

 

To suggest that Obsidian somehow put limits to our ability to pause the game..... Well, that would not only break the compromise that they peddled in their own Kickstarter promotion, but it would also be a huge gameplay departure from every single one of the IE games they claim to want to recapture the magic and tactical combat of.

 

Therefore, I'm against it, even if it does "fix" so-called 'cheater-illogic' like being able to cancel an attack you started, or being able to do stuff outside your turn or whatever. Not that any of this makes a lick of difference. They're not going to put limits on pausing anyway. This is an RPG, not some shooter or RTS game.

Edited by Stun
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And the same applies to smaller screen support too - no extra assets needed, just allow the UI to render at a smaller scale and keep it as configurable (i.e. hideable) as with the IE engines.

 

That's not all that's needed. They'd have to change gameplay (attack range, events at longer ranges), graphics (create new models, shaders, filters), and UI.

 

Tablets/smartphones score better here but, lacking a keyboard, are poor for any task requiring text input

 

There has been a range of tablets with keyboards, some available for over a year, and mouse support isn't unavailable.

 

So neither can replace a small-screen laptop/UMPC for more sophisticated gaming.

 

Sophisticated gaming doesn't exist on a 8" netbook or UMPC. Lots of people will be playing games at 2560x1440 in 2015, no one will be playing new PC games on 8" netbooks, only ports of them that have been heavily modified.

 

Only Magicka can be said to be isometric and that looks like it offers variable view (zoom/rotate) so it will require more GPU horsepower than fixed view isometric - even then its minimum GPU requirements (Geforce 8800/Radeon X1900) are modest by today's standards. So PE should be able to manage with a lower spec GPU and if options like environmental effects (water animation, lighting/shadows) are made optional, there's little reason why it shouldn't be able to run on the lowest class of GPUs.

 

I own Magicka and it's isometric fixed view. Show me the 8" netbook with a GPU that's close to a Geforce 8800/Radeon X1900. Also Magicka does not have anywhere near as detailed models or complex shaders. It was also released at the beginning of 2011, not the end of 2014. If you turned off water animation it would look bad, if you turn off lighting and shadows the game will not function graphically, it will cease to be playable.

 

From the statements and screenshots supplied so far, we can tell that PE is going to be fixed view isometric which means if 3D is used at all, it will be for character sprites, environmental and spell effects. If the latter two can be disabled (and I see no reason why they can't be) then the 3D resource requirements will be very modest indeed - unless you can somehow justify using a multi-megabyte texture on a 1-inch high character sprite...

 

Project Eternity will be using 3D real time rendered character models and objects, characters will consist of 3000 polygons, not sprites. It also will be using maps for lighting and shadows for the 2D backgrounds on top of 3D shaders.

Edited by AwesomeOcelot
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That way I see them doing classes is start with the basic frame work and then let the player fill in the blanks with what they want.

 

So maybe your mage gets Blast, Spells, and familar like all mages do, but he then fills his skill points into Stealth, Pick Pockets, and Heal skills, and then chooses a universal talent for Battle Riendeer pets that he gets early access too because he's a Christmas Elf.

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Btw anyone else have the feeling that Chanters will get access to Blasts like wizards, but not spells? Just a guess.

 

Merry Christmas.

Prior discussions mentioned Chanters being able to chain spells, so I'm pretty sure they will. If anything, I'd guess that blasts will be unique to wizards and that chanters will have some direct combat capability. I wonder though if by chaining spells they just meant a queue of spell actions, or if the chained spells would interact in some manner? Shrug.

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Turn-based, of course, *forces* combat pauses every time its the player's turn to attack. By Employing real time with pause, Obsidian is admittedly offering up the most logical compromise: allowing real-time fans to enjoy uninterrupable combat flow, while giving turn based fans the ability to emulate turn-based combat by pausing whenever they want (to issue orders, think about their next attack, etc.)

Therefore, I'm against it, even if it does "fix" so-called 'cheater-illogic' like being able to cancel an attack you started, or being able to do stuff outside your turn or whatever. Not that any of this makes a lick of difference. They're not going to put limits on pausing anyway. This is an RPG, not some shooter or RTS game.

 

Turn-based combat has clear limits on actions that can be taken in each time interval. And you don't emulate turn-based combat by pausing whenever you want, because there is no pausing and reissuing commands between intervals in turn based combat. First you call this "the most logical compromise", then you talk about "cheater illogic" not mattering because Obsidian promised to make the compromise that is supposed to be the "most logical", lol.

 

Having any command pause at all is a compromise from a real time system. The reasons for having limits on command pausing aren't based on some compromise pact with the developers or some "illogic" having to do with turns. The issue is how the players will need to approach and think about combat, especially with respect to their own competence and skill. It shouldn't be nearly as pronounced as in action games, but it should definitely show up more, especially in the absence of the sort of strict calculations you can put in turn based systems.

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I just don't see any authentic point of imposing limits on pausing. Speaking from a purely gameplay standpoint here, The arguments you've given (e.g. that it's a clear advantage to the player party since the enemy doesn't get the luxury of pausing the game when it wants. etc) are the type of arguments that look valid on paper, and do pass the logic test..... but they don't adequately translate well in the actual game, since there's a lot of reality/technological intangeables at play here that do, in fact, balance out the so-called advantage of pausing that the player has over the enemy.

 

For one thing, we players don't have computer-based brains. UNLIKE the enemy, we typically do not instantly have every spell, every ability and every consumable memorized and placed on que for nano-second speed usage. Instead, we've got lists, trees and large inventories that we have to look through and read and assess. We have fingers that have to hit the correct buttons. Even if we *know* exactly what we want to do, we still have to take the mouse/keyboard and click on it. We have eyes that have to look around to see everything. We have to operate within the confines of an interface. The enemy is not burdened by any of this. Instead, it just *knows* and just *does*. We also have to deal with people calling us on the phone, interrupting our combat. Or having to go to the bathroom in the middle of an encounter. Or having to hold a cigarette in one hand, while trying to control the second-by-second actions of 6 characters through a UI's menu options with the other hand..

 

So yes, I say, let us pause whenever we want.

 

Also a sidenote.... the bottom line here, really: The IE games didn't have pause limits. And they were fine. Better than any game I've ever played that does.

Edited by Stun
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