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Design What makes a good turn based fighting mechanic?

Discussion in 'Game Design, Development And Publishing' started by EvanSki, Jul 6, 2019.

  1. EvanSki

    EvanSki King of Raccoons

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    Personally I really enjoy the fighting mechanics like in Final Fantasy V The Retro Final Fantasy games
    But I love how South park The fractured but whole *sigh* Goes about with a grid format and having to move characters. Also the battle music? is it the intense felling that really makes you excited to steal some kids lunch money? So in your opinions whats a good fighting system you enjoy?

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    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
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  2. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    The only game I've played that had turn based fighting mechanic was "Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga".

    What I liked about it was the requirement to use precise timings when launching an attack or avoiding an attack. If you're late by a fraction of a second, your attack becomes useless or you take damage.
     
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  3. nacho_chicken

    nacho_chicken Member

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    That's FFIV in the screenshot, haha! Not that there's much difference between the two, combat-wise.

    A good turn-based combat system should force the player to contemplate their actions.

    Quite a few Final Fantasy games suffer from issues with this -- most versions of FFIV and FFVI in particular come to mind. Once you discover that you can spam your strongest attacks and have almost zero issues, combat becomes tedious. There's no element of resource preservation because ethers/elixirs are so easy to come by. Brainlessly selecting ATTACK and being able to win most fights with no repercussions is the antithesis of fun.

    The Dragon Quest series, on the other hand, generally handles this well. Individual combats aren't particularly difficult, but MP-restoring items are few and far in between. Fights instead come down to figuring out the most efficient way to win, as opposed to simply figuring out how to win. The latter usually takes seconds, while the former can require the whole game before you perfect that skill.

    Also: don't put any attacks in your game that outclass others in 99% of situations. In FFVI, why on earth would you use Firaga for 2k damage when you have Ultima, which essentially guarantees capping damage? Why would you spend a turn in FFVII not using Knights of the Round once you have it? I bring those out in particular, because in those games, MP-restoring items are plentiful and money to buy them is generally a non-issue.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
  4. EvanSki

    EvanSki King of Raccoons

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    shoosh
     
  5. Kezarus

    Kezarus Member

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    I love turn-based combat! XCOM (old and new), Battle Brothers and Darkest Dungeon are my favorites. Like them so much that I made my own title with the features that I found most interesting among them.

    One feature that I like the most and it's VERY hard to come by is a Rock-Paper-Scissors kind of combat. "Kind" of like Pokemon, but they over did it on that.

    Another thing is, like we have on FF 8 and 7, a time for you to click to land a hit or critical.

    I tried to put that on Endless RPG, I hope people like it. =]
     
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  6. Pfap

    Pfap Member

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    I have a really unique one that I have never seen replicated... it's almost too different to really describe it and videos don't really give it justice. This game had really good balance, although some of the boss fights would take too much time. It was a weird balancing act of tagging your partners in and out while making sure everybody was healed or charged up. You could brute force or win purely based on skill if I recall correctly. Anyways, this game had a very unique combat system and was very memorable, maybe someday I will get around to implementing or improving upon a tag based fighting rpg… Also, I really loved the way the wind waker had the parry attack, which could be modified to work in a turn based situation. When the A button flashed if you tapped it soon enough you performed a parry attack, but having a mechanic where if you react soon enough to some on screen movement if done properly can be really satisfying.

    Here's a pic of box cover art from the game I was talking about first:
    super robot taisen.png
     
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  7. nacho_chicken

    nacho_chicken Member

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    Geez, I thought I was the only one who played that. Definitely a unique combat system, only used in a few games. The originator of this combat system was the JP-exclusive Strategy RPG, Namco x Capcom. A spiritual successor to that series, Project X Zone, eventually did release for the 3DS in Western territories, along with its sequel. I recommend them if you want more of a similar combat style. Just know that stages in the first game can get really, REALLY long. Like 1 hour+ long.
     
  8. Pfap

    Pfap Member

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    That's good to know! I remember it being so satisfying, because the game almost had a rhythmic feeling to it that you would get so into a battle and couldn't really pause mid way through or you could, but it took a while to get back into it then. I think I played it when I was like 14 or 15... I wish I could spend time like that lol.
     
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  9. Siolfor the Jackal

    Siolfor the Jackal Member

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    I love a good combat system.
    One of the best in my opinion is the Paper Mario one, very simple but very involved. Having the right badge set up, right partner, and nailing the timing of your attacks makes for a really interesting system.

    Golden Sun is my favourite of the more traditional style ones(beating out Chrono Trigger slightly and classic FF and DQ)
    It takes the classic formula of the old games and did some interesting things.
    You equip little elemental creatures called Djinn and the mix and amount determines your class(and abilities). But, in battle, each djinn has an ability(like an attack or spell) and once you use one, it will be inactive and no longer contribute to your class(your class may change now as a result of using one, and your stats will be slightly reduced). You can use a turn to reactivate it, OR you can use it to call a summon. This is where it gets interesting, because having a certain amount of these djinn on standby changes what you can summon. Having 4 earth djinn will get you a strong earth summon "Judgment" or in the second game, 1 earth and 1 fire will summon "Zagan".
    It may sound complicated but it makes perfect sense as you're introduced to it in-game. Makes for some cool and strategic battles on what appears to be a basic turn based battle system at first.

    Blue Dragon on Xbox360 was another good one that shookup the classic formula a bit.
    The main interesting thing here for me came from how they managed the turn order. There is a bar which shows the turn order timeline, such as who is next and who is after etc. But some attacks and all magical abilities give you the option to charge them up and this can change your place in the turn order timeline, but it requires good timing much like Paper Mario. Battles become so much more strategic when you are trying to find the most effecient way to kill all the enemies quickly whilst also trying to balance ability strength with turn order. Really cool game.

    Now, for something different. Gladius on Xbox, PS2, and GCN.
    It had an ancient greek theme which was cool but the battle system is one of my favourites overall. It was a 3D grid based strategy game, along the lines of X-Com and such.
    What made this interesting for me was the swing meters. Regular attacks had a swing meter, much like you'd see in a golf game, with the first large section giving you a standard attack, a small critical hit sectuon, and a part at the end that guarantees you missed.
    It made the combat feel more skill based than relying on stats and RNG. If you missed, it's because you missed, not because the RNG didn't favour you.
    Abilities and magical attacks often had unique inputs too. Combo attacks had a normal attack swing meter with different inputs all across it, or some attacks required mashing A or X, with a few more I forget. But overall it made the battles more exciting and you felt more in control. It was a really great game.

    Now these ones are a bit rough and not overly well received games but I still loved them.
    Holy Magic Century/Quest 64 and Aiden Chronicles were both N64 games that used the same battle engine(I believe THQ bought the engine from Quest 64). It was mostly turn based and on your turn a circle appeared around you(size based on your stats) and that dictated how far on the battlefield you could move on your turn. The other interesting part is that during enemy attacks(at least in Quest 64), for a moment you can move and attempt to avoid the attack which was usually quite difficult but spells had patterns you could learn.

    Lastly, something a bit weirder but really cool.
    Hybrid Heaven on N64.
    It at first looks like some sort of 3D fighting game on battles, you can run around in real time but you're always facing the single enemy. Where it gets interesting is when you initiate an action, the game pauses and a menu appears. Based on how much stamina you have left, you can choose a variety of kicks and punches and grabs/throws. Even eventually combos.
    Now this happens during enemy attacks too, but your options are on attempting to anticipate the enemy attack by blocking, or evading, or if you're feeling confident, countering the attack. The enemy behaves the same as you so they can initiate grabs and combos too and can also attempt to block, evade or counter.
    The other cool part about the game was the levelling system. After the battle your body parts would level up based on the battle. Do a lot of right hand punches and your right arm offense will increase. Get punched in the head a lot, head defense will increase. You also learn grabs/throws from having them be used on you. Oh and if I remember correctly, body parts can be damaged in battle from excessive damage so that renders them useless for attacks and can reduce your mobility or defensive options.

    Anyway, sorry for the wall of text but I get really passionate about certain battle systems!
     
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  10. Psycho_666

    Psycho_666 Member

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    Turn based battle systems have a few issues that needs to be solved before doing anything else...
    For example in Heroes 3 the human kingdom was one of the best not because it was really one of the best, but because they had always the first attack. Whoever have the first turn usually have HUGE advantage. So sorting the first turn issue is important.
    If I can cripple the opponent just because I have the first turn - it's not fun for anyone.

    Then if we talk about RPG like Final fantasy or something - you want to do something to make the standard attack not completely useless. I have played a few jrpgs where I just don't use standard attack ever. There is almost always some better option that just makes me ignore the standard attack option. But it's still there, in the menu... Hey, wanna see something useless? Here's a standard attack option.

    And then I want synergies. Bufs and debufs, frozen enemies and attacks that does extra damage to frozen enemies, lightning does extra damage to water based opponents, stuff like that. It doesn't even needs to be anything super complicated, just some status effects and attacks, who's damage depends on those status effects.

    Then if you want to get into more complicated stuff look at Disciples 2 - large boss monsters deal huge amount of damage, but they are huge so they take extra slots in your army. You can have 5 knights but you can only have 2 giants, because they are... well... gigantic...

    Positioning on the battlefield can be part of the fun. This army unit deals the highest damage at 5 to 7 range. It also have a decent mele attack, but over 7 range it sucks, so you have to position it at 6 range and keep the enemy at that range so the unit shoots his ass...

    You can have items, boosting certain units...

    Having depth in the battle system makes it interesting. Just throwing units at units is boring.
    The thing is, adding depth to already complex turn based system is a pain in the lower back...
     
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  11. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

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    I really enjoyed Bravely Default lately (and before that, its predecessory Final Fantasy V) because of how the skill system lets you combine aspects of different classes (stats, spells, active abilities and passive abilities that feed into each other) to create overpowered situations, and a lot of bosses went from impossible to trivial once you figured out how you could overcome their strengths and prey on their weaknesses. For instance, one lategame boss keeps spamming the strongest elemental magic in the game, but you could have your scientist keep laying down a magic circle that nullifies ALL elemental damage for everyone in battle, rendering her only means of attack useless. (Or you could keep your party buffed with magic reflection so you also damage her, but at a higher MP cost that needs to be sustained. Or you could have everyone dual-wield elemental shields that nullify two third of her attacks and then heal when you need to, maybe bringing the dark knight's "explode on death, damage all enemies" skill so it's not too bad if you keep getting unluckily oneshot)

    ...so yeah, basically the fun in that game is the preparation BETWEEN battles. As Sun Tzu teaches, the winner of a battle is determined before the first blade is unsheathed.


    Of course, this doesn't mean your battle system can suck as much as it wants just if the prep work is good, either. If preparation is TOO important, you might lose out on fun (e.g. you tried the wrong strategy and an enemy takes 1000 turns to kill and you need to sit through them all and you don't realize you gotta go back and try something else), and you need to give the player an easy way to redo preparations if they picked the wrong ones, too (oh no I spent ALL my levels in fire magic and now I'm at the level cap, how should I beat the Water Dentist Lord?). Paper Mario style badges and equipment with special properties could be two ways (well, more like one way) to solve this issue, branches in the skill tree you can change at any time like in CrossCode another.
     
  12. Siolfor the Jackal

    Siolfor the Jackal Member

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    That reminds me of a FF4 bossI struggled with at first. Every few turns she cures herself a massive amount. Made it feel like there was no way I could keep damaging her fast enough to offset it.
    Then I realisex I could cast Reflect on her so that every time she tried to cast cure on herself, she cured one of my party members. The downside being my magic attacks were useless now but made her beatable.
     
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  13. RichHopefulComposer

    RichHopefulComposer Member

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    Chrono Trigger is probably the most fun I've had with a turn based battle system. I loved scrambling through menus to choose commands before enemies took their turn again. The ATB system was great. I even reorganized items for a few fights so I could use them faster. Lots of hectic fun. The amazing music didn't hurt, either.

    I really wanna do a Chrono Trigger style game at some point...
     
  14. boustrophedon

    boustrophedon Member

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    I really enjoy when buffs, debuffs and status ailment attacks are actually useful
     
  15. HeWhoShallNotBeNamed

    HeWhoShallNotBeNamed Member

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    Me too. In the worst way. I think the Double and Triple Tech mechanic should have made its way into a lot more games, as it makes you think about party composition a lot more than you usually have to. Of course, I have to make a bunch of games like FF VI first, though.

    In the game I'm working on now, the battles are more like FF Tactics or the South Park game than either of those. Player abilities are based on equipment, with each weapon having up to four different abilities. The first is a basic attack, which is weak but can be used on every turn. The rest of the abilities have cooldowns. Hopefully that will force the player to think about the right time to use an ability rather than just spamming the strongest one. I also kind of have a rock-paper-scissors system where use of certain weapon types can result in a greater chance of rare item drops depending on the enemy its used against. It won't make it easier to fight those enemies or force you into a certain playstyle against certain enemies, but it will add a layer of strategy for those that choose to use it. Don't mean to make this all about my own stuff, but I figured I'd share how I'm trying to tackle turn-based battles (when we decided spamming a slash button was better than traditional turn-based is beyond me.)

    In general, anything that adds variety is a good thing. I loved how FF VI's characters each had their own unique abilities in addition to the same magic and summon abilities that everyone has. They may all, in the end, amount to the same thing, but Cyan's Quadra Slam, Edgar's Chainsaw, and Sabin's Aura Bolt add a unique visual element to what could be a bland battle. And in a lot of cases, these abilities had to be used in different ways, so while you had to get good with Street Fighter-style button combos to use Sabin's abilities, you had to um... wait for a bar to fill for Cyan's, which adds a bit of risk/reward using you strongest attacks. As I mentioned with Chrono Trigger, Techs were essentially just magic, but you got access to different Double and Triple Techs depending on what combination of characters you had in your party. It gives you the feeling that you're controlling not just individual characters, but a team that's actually working together.

    Final Fantasy XIII's Paradigm system had potential. Switching between job types on the fly could add a nice level of strategy (especially if the enemies could do it too), and switching in your Sentinels to absorb a massive attack JUUUUUSSST in time felt satisfying. The problem was, your commando just spammed attacks, and your ranger just spammed attack magic. With actual abilities, these roles would have seemed like something more than just tapping a button.

    In terms of grid-based or strategy RPGs, one thing that stood out to me was how, in XCOM 2, you could either rush straight into a fight or strategically place your soldiers around the map, scoping out enemy positions and setting up ambushes. Knowing you can fire a shot that will cause the enemy to run right into the fire from three other soldiers is deeply rewarding. And the fact that you don't know the exact makeup of the enemy force until you're in the battle is great, forcing you to deal with a new biggest threat on the fly. No clue how you'd translate any of that to classic JRPG-style "bad guys on the left, good guys on the right" battle systems, though.

    Sorry for the text wall. Kind of a subject I've already given some thought to.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
  16. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

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    Just be careful not to make those alternate strategies get in the way of player fun because people feel they need to use the optimal loot strategy. I felt like in games like Portrait of Ruin and Ritual of the Night I was actively discouraged against using magic attacks because that meant I wouldn't get random coin drops, only mana refill drops, and that removes a lot of the variety. Etrian Odyssey has a system like this that's done pretty well, most enemies has a conditional drop it only drops if killed in a certain way... early enemies often have simple conditional drops like "kill with a slash attack", lategame ones has much trickier ones, such as killing a boss in one turn for its conditional drop or making the enemy suffer from an ailment it has high resistance to. Etrian Odyssey 4 / 6 also has a notable inversion of the system , where fire and ice elementals from a fire/ice dungeon has a conditional drop if they're hit with a single attack of the opposite element... that's much worse and less valuable than their normal drop, so they essentially require you to kill them without abusing their weakness to get the rare drop.

    Super seconding this, variety helps the battles feel fresh. I've been playing a lot of Disgaea 5 lately, and even though the animations are faster and snappier than ever, watching the same animation 10 times in a row because every enemy uses the same move gets old quick. There's a lot of easily forgotten places you should add variety:
    • in Final Fantasy clones, don't have the same 2-3 enemy parties for every encounter in a dungeon. Add lots of different enemy parties, even if you just replace a single enemy. Add different variations of the same enemy if you can (e.g. goblins can show up using either a dagger, a club or a longbow, they have the same stats but use different types of attacks and will drop different weapons)
    • In Tactics RPGs, don't have every battlefield be a square region with a bunch of trees in the middle. Even the same enemy party can feel vastly different if you change up the terrain. Muddy terrain that reduces movement range makes your flying units shine, cliffs that are one-way lets ranged units pelt you with stones and arrows while you scurry to get to safety in one piece, walls and chokepoints lets you have your strong tank take on the enemies one at a time letting you survive an otherwise insurmountable amount of enemies.
    • Have lots of situational abilities that are really useful when those situations arise, so that the player is encouraged to not just use the same few attacks over and over. Elemental weaknesses and ailments is a good example of this, and ripple effects like fire attacks being able to start wildfire on certain terrain types, electric attacks damaging anything standing in a body of water (and ice freezing said water, immobilizing anyone standing in it for a few turns!) can really make you think about how to use your environment. Even better if the player can chain together these effects to create those situations their other skills benefit from, letting them set up a Rube Goldenberg machine of combos that destroys anything in their path.
    • Darkest Dungeon has the best status ailment system I've ever seen, and it's the gold standard for how to handle status ailment IMO: ailments stack with each other, so if you trigger something to bleed 3 times, it will take bleed damage 3 times per turn. By default most ailments are almost guaranteed to trigger on hit, so they're more balanced around being stackable and weak individually than being unreliable and powerful (like in most other games). If your entire party spams bleed skills, you can quickly bleed out most enemies... except skeletons. Most enemies are weak to one ailment and resistant to another, with skeletons in the ruins being immune to bleeding, pigmen in the warrens being resistant to poison but weak to bleeding, the beasts of the forest being resistant to both bleeding and poison but being easy to stun... The game is all about dealing with things going wrong, and attacks never get more than 90% accurate, so knowing that status ailment damage is guaranteed to happen makes them seem more tempting, even if they're slower to act.
     
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  17. HeWhoShallNotBeNamed

    HeWhoShallNotBeNamed Member

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    That's definitely something I'm trying to balance. I'm never going to make it a thing where you can ONLY get x item using a spear and you can ONLY get y item using lightning magic, etc. I want it to kind of be a layer that "hardcore" players can discover but that more casual gamers can choose to ignore.

    (Looking at first battle area in my game, literally a square region with a bunch of trees in the middle. "But there's rocks...") Ideally, I'd like to add ways to exploit the environment. I'd just like to make sure I know how to get the basics right first.

    Most definitely agree with this. Ideally, you should have situations where how/when you deal with a particular enemy depends on who they have with them. It should feel like you're being attacked by a TEAM, not by a bunch of individuals that happen to be standing next to each other. As much as the player shouldn't just be spamming the same attack, neither should their enemies.
     
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