Friday, September 23, 2011

Thoughts about older RPGs

Combat project has sorta been on hiatus with all the job junk but I've been thinking about turn based games. Asking a question akin to "how would you make turn based RPGs competitive" to some people got a few answers. Some not so worthwhile to me as they were subjective such "awesome graphics" and "Epic plot" but a few managed to get my attention.

Pre-battle Tactics
This one got my attention, though not much of an explanation, as I may have never seen this explored. In most traditional RPGs the most you did before a battle was buy then equip the best items, maybe use some monster repel to keep random encounters down, and recover. That's it, quite little you do that does have an impact in battle but not much of a choice until you're low on supplies. While I didn't get a proper explanation there was a few thoughts on this. The most overwhelming thought was of "buff" spells.

In most old games, I say most as I haven't seen them all, enhancement spells only last until the end of battle. After that the only thing that sticks with you is a number of negative status effects like poison. While this could have been due to memory issues it may have been a hold over from earlier games. The thought upon hearing Pre-battle tactics was a very simple idea of "everyone gets to cast a free enhancement spell". Using some menu you could set up your battle strategy and get all your buff spells or possibly abilities cast. Personally in every RPG I never used buff spells besides bosses for the simple reason that the turn you spent casting them could used defeating the enemies, it only served to make the battle one turn longer for the random encounters to me. How true this is I'm not sure but given a system of setting up some insurance on battles would tempt me into using them, a good strategy for making MP more valuable as it could be expended a lot more.

Beyond that I'm not sure. I'm not the most creative thinker in this sort of thing but for a more traditional Turn based RPG this seems like very unexplored territory so it's gotten me interested in it. Maybe something to look more into for later musings.

Menu System Reduction
I had mixed feelings on this but it's true. There are a lot of menus in RPGs. Often you'll go through a few sunscreens to do something other than the basic attack, even then you'll have to select the enemy which might as well count as a menu. It's a hard thing to solve for me though there may be a few ways to go about it.

While I have not played Mass effect I have seen it in action. The ability to pull up your non standard attack actions with one button then use a mouse/direction to select which one and target at the same time hides a lot of the menu systems without taking away from the number of it. Excuse me if I'm misremember a bit here though, it's been a bit over a year since a viewing of a Mass Effect game in action was seen here. While it may just be hiding the steps it's a lot better to look at.

This is sorta something that I was beginning to realize in combat project, 4 to 5 options every attack was seeming to be a lot. May be ways to reduce this as skipping some of them but at minimum you need to do 2 selections unless some sort of macro system was in place to automate a few decisions. More work needed on that thought though if that gets done soon you guys may not benefit from it.

Either way some lite thinking going on. I will try to get back to putting something up here but it may be hectic till I get an understanding of the situation. Though with how it goes I tend to do more little things like my own projects or drawing the more work I need to do. Either way if you have seen games which do some of these things I'd like to hear about them to look into it.


  1. I've seen some pre-battle tactics but not in older games, well I suppose it would be older now. In The Last Remnant you gain the ability to slow down time and grab enemies so you can have a huge fight, and if enemies get the jump on you then you start at a disadvantage. But I'm not really sure if that counts as a pre-battle tactic.

  2. You remembered Mass Effect's combat menu pretty accurately. It was pretty broken in the first one because you could aim your gun shots in what effectively was frozen time.

  3. I'm glad you're putting thought into the ui of the system before you go about implementing it. Less forcing the ui to conform to your system.