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Why do people keep trying to implement the PnP engagement system in non-turn based cRPGs?


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I really, reaaaaaally want to know why the devs thought it was a good idea to implement PnP's engagement system to what is supposed to be a fast-paced RPG (and other gamers' thoughts about these mechanics and their implementation in cRPGs in general).

 

There's a reason NWN1 has a deeply troubled combat mechanics history despite being a heavily modded/enjoyed game, and why sooooo many people heaved a collected sigh of relief when NWN2 moved away from that.

Seriously, have the devs watched how people play the game on youtube? PnP engagament mechanics simply does not lend itself to non-turn based games, which is why so many people have to resort to auto-pause (esp. "pause after ability use") in order to turn the game into a pseudo-turn based game and so they have an easier time managing combat.

 

And please don't give me that "because that would make ranged weapons overpowered" excuse. That's stupid, especially given that PoE/Tyranny has shown us how its not and ESPECIALLY considering how games like the Infinity Engine games were able to definitively prove that there were ways to get around this.

 

I was originally under the impression that this was going to be a temporary thing, but with current trends I'm really not looking forward to a future of PnP engagement mechanics-type games. I mean sure, if PoE is to become the next NWN1 (as in heavily moddable/customizable) then why not, pseudo-turn based mechanics fit well into that microcosm, but I don't think that's what developers are aiming for.

Edited by scythesong
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no idea what you mean, Pillars were never supposed to be fast paced RPG

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Tactics mainly imho. Positioning becomes important.

What game are u talking about because I'm guessing it's about PoE?

Not only PoE, but Tyranny too. I'm not sure why tactics is an issue, the Infinity Engine games gave you a massive amount of tactical options even without the engagement system. Same for Neverwinter Nights 2 and even the more hack-and-slash ARPGs like Dungeon Siege 2 - pausing, positioning and careful planning was also critical to these games even without the extremely-slowed down combat system.

 

 

no idea what you mean, Pillars were never supposed to be fast paced RPG

Because it's not turn-based? When you make a non-turn based game it's heavily implied that combat is supposed to flow smoothly.

Seriously, do a google search about Pillars of Eternity combat and add "fast" or "slow". The pages upon pages of results speak for themselves.

 

One of the heaviest criticisms about PoE is that players can't figure out the combat speed, it's either too slow or too fast for them - and that's EXACTLY because the game is somehow a non-turn based game that heavily uses the engagement system, which is a turn-based mechanic. Hell, the game even introduces a fast-walk mode to try and speed things up - that's not an indicator to you that gameplay is supposed to be smoother/faster?

 

Ultimately PoE is like a contemplative RPG game that for some reason forces you to do a really loud/obnoxious dance-dance-revolution battle every 10 mins, in terms of conflicting mechanics. It's nice if that's exactly the kind of game they wanted to produce, but again I'm not sure this is what the devs are aiming for.

Edited by scythesong
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thats why its called real time with pause... and where you get that grounded idea that engagement mechanics are only for turn based games? I have no idea what are you smoking

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Wow, you badly need a lesson in basics.

 

Because "real time" combat is pointless if your characters constantly turn around and ignore your commands because the engagement system forces them to attack/engage nearby enemies and forget whatever it was you wanted them to do? Because instead of smooth combat your characters suddenly slow down (or make a funny spinning dance if you keep forcing them to move away) whenever something approaches them in melee? Because the engagement system is based on PnP, which is turn-based? Because it's stupid that you need to pause like a maniac when combat COULD simply be changed into actual turn-based combat instead of forcing the player to resort to using pseudo-turn based mechanics themselves?

Seriously, ever head of games like the old Fallout series? Temple of Elemental Evil? Divinity: Original Sin?

 

And you know what the funniest thing is? People go out of their way to undermine the engagement system whenever they can anyway. It was that way even with Neverwinter Nights 1 (one of the main reasons why people loved Hide in Plain Sight /concealment). Hell, being able skip all that slowdown/hassle caused by the engagement system is arguably one of the reasons why some people prefer to solo. "We'd rather play a more difficult game setting using self-imposed restrictions than deal with your gameplay mechanic."

The devs behind IE games like Baldur's Gate were smart enough to recognize how pointless the mechanic was for the game they wanted to produce and just got rid of it, instead favoring direct defensive spells for casters/wizards among other things.

Edited by scythesong
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Because it's stupid that you need to pause like a maniac when combat COULD simply be changed into actual turn-based combat instead of forcing the player to resort to using pseudo-turn based mechanics themselves?

Pausing like a maniac is the whole point of real-time with pause. It's designed to leverage advantages of turn-based combat (time to analyze situations, plan ahead, make proper moves, worry about positioning) with advantages real-time combat (immediate reactivity, inherently chaotic nature and unpredictability, need to improvise).

 

'Sides, build your parties properly and you won't ever really have to particularly worry about engagement, especially with the latest patch.

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Pausing like a maniac is the whole point of real-time with pause. It's designed to leverage advantages of turn-based combat (time to analyze situations, plan ahead, make proper moves, worry about positioning) with advantages real-time combat (immediate reactivity, inherently chaotic nature and unpredictability, need to improvise).

'Sides, build your parties properly and you won't ever really have to particularly worry about engagement, especially with the latest patch.

 

BUT that's only true if the game had a flowing/smooth combat system that promotes real-time combat to begin with. Are you actually arguing that that's how things are in PoE, what with all the "auto-pause after using an ability", "auto-pause after seeing an enemy", etc. ON TOP of engagement that we have to deal with?

 

 

 

'Sides, build your parties properly and you won't ever really have to particularly worry about engagement, especially with the latest patch.

 

You realize you're agreeing with me, right? What's even the point of engagement when in the end we're all just really trying to undermine it? It just slows down combat unnecessarily.

So why is it in the game? Because it balances melee vs ranged? Because it makes early game more challenging? Because it makes aggro management easier (even though mobs target and often teleport towards specific party members anyway)? Because it introduces a risk/reward system that has a way of getting your allies killed due to bad AI calculation/pathing?

Doesn't it fail spectacularly at whatever it is it's supposed to be doing or am I missing something?

Edited by scythesong
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the Infinity Engine games gave you a massive amount of tactical options even without the engagement system.

Sometimes I fondly think about all the tactical options melee warriors got in infinity engine games. It was like 3d chess.

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Sometimes I fondly think about all the tactical options melee warriors got in infinity engine games. It was like 3d chess.

 

The strength of the IE games was because it also had a well-established real-time combat system. Warriors can easily switch between ranged and melee, for example, or switch to a magical weapon that allowed them to deal massive damage or even control the battlefield because of positioning (eg. The Daystar, Celestial Fury, Arrows of Biting, etc). They were also a real dangerous force in combat because they natively had better combat abilities (more proficiency points, better proficiency progression, better THAC0 and most importantly higher attacks per round).

 

As far as warriors were concerned, instead of the engagement system IE instead used a system that simply made them much, much more dangerous so that it would be stupid to ignore them, especially once magic entered the picture (with SCS you also get hasted fighters with various spell protections).

Edited by scythesong
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That's all for BG2. BG1, especially early BG1 though? Better hope that wolf/ xvart/ hobgoblin/ kobold etc doesn't make a beeline past your fighters for your lvl1-3 caster with his handful of hit points and couple of spells. Engagement at least theoretically would help with that and is why attacks of opportunity were introduced in 3e.

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That's all for BG2. BG1, especially early BG1 though? Better hope that wolf/ xvart/ hobgoblin/ kobold etc doesn't make a beeline past your fighters for your lvl1-3 caster with his handful of hit points and couple of spells. Engagement at least theoretically would help with that and is why attacks of opportunity were introduced in 3e.

 

Keyword "theoretically", though. We all know that at higher difficulties it doesn't matter (mobs ignore engagement and go after your squishies anyway) and that because PoE/Tyranny likes to put you in situations where your team auto-positions before combat (we should be very familiar with these universally hated cutscenes by now) then your squishies are often left wide open. What's funny is that pretty often when you send in your fighters to intercept enemy mobs guys engagement will actually backfire and pin down your fighters while mobs circle around them and just keep going after your squishies.

 

Now if the game was actually turn-based then you can avoid this because the AI doesn't have to think too much (to the point of making really, really stupid decisions) to get things done, and we can simulate that by just adding a lot of pause conditions to our games - we can then react to what the enemy does (like if it decides to ignore engagement) on a per-turn basis. However at the game's default setting we're basically stuck with a turn-based/real-time hybrid model that pretty often just fails.

And we've not even started on enemy types that like to use teleport/"leap" attacks to re-position themselves in front of your caster (aka, hell even the AI itself is undermining engagement).

 

BG tackles this by giving you the opportunity to choose your battles and where to fight them (for the most part). You can basically avoid risky combat altogether (it even gives you tools like Detect Evil and plenty of rogue NPCs with questionably high stealth to do it) and work your way towards higher levels with fetch quests. At higher levels you then gain access to spells like Invisibility and Mirror Image, and that's where the real fun starts because at that point it's all about strategy/tactics and countering what the enemy does.

Obviously there's room for improvement here, like giving warrior-types a bigger character hitbox/"area of control" that prevents enemies from just rushing past them (Dragon Age 2, for all its faults, had an ingenious solution for this - making fighter auto-attacks AoE so if enemies just bunch up on your mages then the fighter will destroy them) or giving them combat bonuses for mobs that ignore them (these ARE warriors aka specialists at dealing/receiving close combat damage, you'd think they'd know exactly which critical points to attack). Like if someone ignores a shield-user then he gains a bonus to stun enemies with his shield.

These options are much more conducive to real-time combat since they eliminate that engagement-mechanic middleman, allowing you to focus on re-evaluating what feats/skills your character should use for each particular situation... and that should be the point, shouldn't it?

 

So my question remains - why is there a non-progression based limiting mechanic in these games that is causing us unnecessary headaches?

Edited by scythesong
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Because it only head aches to certain people. I have no problem with it and really enjoy it.

Also ur thinking this isn't a pnp style game which it is. Pnp is turn based because each turn is 6 secs in dnd/pathfinder, real time with pause is what pnp is "supposed" to look like when everyone has their input going in. Hence the timing between actions and the need to pause.

This is not fast pace (Diablo 2 would be fast pace), it's more "medium" pace while full on turn base being slow.

It's okay for you not to like it, different strokes for different folks. I like it specially when it's me doing it to the mobs but also because it makes me think of ways to cross a battle field to get to a target and vice versa on the enemies.

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Because it's stupid that you need to pause like a maniac when combat COULD simply be changed into actual turn-based combat instead of forcing the player to resort to using pseudo-turn based mechanics themselves?

Seriously, ever head of games like the old Fallout series? Temple of Elemental Evil? Divinity: Original Sin?

 

I vastly prefer RT with pause. I vastly prefer the combat in the old infinity engine games plus Tyranny and PoE than the games you have listed. You pause like a maniac because that is the primary way you play the game. Rather being 'forced' that is how I prefer to play and how these games are designed to be played. So no I don't think it's 'stupid' that I am not playing another game that I find less enjoyable and less fun like the games you listed.

 

So I get you prefer those other games. Cool.

Edited by Valmy
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That's all for BG2. BG1, especially early BG1 though? Better hope that wolf/ xvart/ hobgoblin/ kobold etc doesn't make a beeline past your fighters for your lvl1-3 caster with his handful of hit points and couple of spells. Engagement at least theoretically would help with that and is why attacks of opportunity were introduced in 3e.

I mean, you don't even have to go that far. If they roll a 20 against your fighter (5% chance for every attack!), your fighter is almost certainly dead, too. Levels 1-2 in BG1 really sucked.

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BUT that's only true if the game had a flowing/smooth combat system that promotes real-time combat to begin with.

No, it's not. It doesn't promote real-time combat. It promotes real-time combat with plentiful pausing. Thus real-time with pause.

 

Are you actually arguing that that's how things are in PoE, what with all the "auto-pause after using an ability", "auto-pause after seeing an enemy", etc. ON TOP of engagement that we have to deal with?

You've managed a straw-man in the second sentence of your response, that's impressive :-P

 

You realize you're agreeing with me, right?

No, I'm saying that if you don't like engagement, you can build your parties to largely circumvent it. I happen to like it so I make full use of it.
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That's all for BG2. BG1, especially early BG1 though? Better hope that wolf/ xvart/ hobgoblin/ kobold etc doesn't make a beeline past your fighters for your lvl1-3 caster with his handful of hit points and couple of spells. Engagement at least theoretically would help with that and is why attacks of opportunity were introduced in 3e.

I mean, you don't even have to go that far. If they roll a 20 against your fighter (5% chance for every attack!), your fighter is almost certainly dead, too. Levels 1-2 in BG1 really sucked.

 

 

Fighters can at least wear helmets, and they protect against crits. Thieves and mages (and druids?) can't, as well as having lower HP.

 

Don't think anyone is going to argue about the general suckitude of early level 2e D&D though.

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You've managed a straw-man in the second sentence of your response, that's impressive :-P

 

As impressive as your "it's there, just deal with it" approach to the argument, which sadly also happens to be the general reply. Also as with your playing devil's advocate by arguing that a pseudo-turn based game is actually a real-time pause game (which is ridiculous, PoE gets more forced pauses than Divinity: Original Sin) or that undermining a mechanic that serves no purpose (it's VERY conspicuous how no one seems to be offering a clear advantage to the engagement system other than "because the game comes with it") counts as "using it to my advantage". I don't know if that's meant to be funny.

No one seems to be acknowledging the massive cons of the mechanic either. That's disappointing.

 

Also PoE is being heavily marketed as a spiritual successor of the IE games, specifically Baldur's Gate and the Icewind Dale games, which are actual real-time games with pause (and the real time aspect is one of bigger strengths of these games, as underlined by the EE versions).

So yeah, the whole "this is a different type of game, deal with it" approach is just one big fat straw-man argument anyway, I just didn't think I needed to point out the obvious.

Edited by scythesong
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spiritual successor != carbon copy

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