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Author Topic: Are turn-based console RPGs officially dead?  (Read 4685 times)
Aeolus
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« Reply #60 on: December 23, 2013, 03:40:04 PM »

Aeolus, I don't feel that any of the changes you suggested are really addressing the core problem, namely the lack of depth and complexity.  Maybe the changes you suggest make more logical sense, but I don't see them fundamentally changing the way the game is played.

Let me give an example of the sort of thing I was thinking of.  Status effects don't necessarily have to be big things.  Let's imagine introducing a 'stunned' status.  Certain big attacks could have a chance of leaving an enemy stunned for a short period of time and as a result they could be more vulnerable to a follow-up attack.  But this is still being done with an attack so you don't feel like it's a complete waste even if the status doesn't take.  Anyway, a stunned enemy should take more damage from another attack and probably lose the chance to dodge it.  This introduces the opportunity to make types of attacks that are particularly effective against stunned enemies, for instance another character could have an attack that does a lot of damage but has a low hit chance normally.  It might not be a good attack to use against an able-bodied enemy but if you get the chance to use it against somebody who has already been stunned then suddenly it seems like a great thing to do.

Now let's add another wrinkle.  I said it should take a 'big attack' to cause stun.  Well, let's make that actually mean something in the game.  A big attack should leave the attacker vulnerable for a short period of time.  Not as bad as being stunned, but let's say there's a short 'guard down' period because they just make a giant swing with their big hammer or whatever and can't readily defend themselves.  You might want to have yet another character cover them during this period to reduce the chance of being counterattacked.  So instead of just whacking the enemies with each character's best attack every turn you have to coordinate the actions of three different characters to maximize their abilities.  But the end result should be (if it's balanced right, anyway) more effective than each character acting individually.  Now introduce a stamina mechanic or something similar to limit how often these special abilities can be used and you really have to start thinking about when to use them.

And let's talk about magic for a second.  Anyone in the process of casting a spell should have a similar 'guard down' status at the very least.  Furthermore let's take a page for D&D rules and say that there should be a possibility of interrupting spell casting if the caster takes sufficient damage during the casting period.  There's another area where a cover type ability would be genuinely useful, to make sure your casters can actually cast.

None of this really demands dramatic changes in the mechanics of play, but having these abilities that interact with and complement each other dramatically increases the complexity of play.  That's what the goal ought to be.

So in other words, do what Xenoblade did but take it one step further and add in interrupts.
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« Reply #61 on: December 23, 2013, 05:54:00 PM »

Not having played Xenoblade I can't answer that...though I didn't really say anything about interrupts.  And I was imagining this more in a traditional turn-based or ATB system.
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« Reply #62 on: December 23, 2013, 06:14:30 PM »

I have a hard time considering any kind of ATB inspired system to be considered "turn-based." I guess I'm just a purist like that.
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« Reply #63 on: December 23, 2013, 06:41:56 PM »

all you have to do is expand on FFX/shadow hearts2
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« Reply #64 on: December 24, 2013, 03:21:10 AM »

I have been too busy/lazy to respond to this thread properly but I wanted to say that I don't think we've seen the pinnacle of turn based gameplay in RPGs, not by a long shot, and that more powerful hardware certainly holds possibilities for combat system growth.

The most obvious would be improved AI. I also think very seamless transitioning between the game world and combat would be really engaging. This is going to sound dumb, but when I first started reading about Final Fantasy 13, the in-combat screens looked so much like the out of combat screens that I thought it was completely without the usual transition/phasing into combat mode.

Since this sort of 'phasing' into combat limits the more insignificant battles to nothing but trivial timesinks, it would be interesting to see an approach where the two states of gameplay existed in near perfect synchronicity. Perhaps there may be goals greater than the immediate removal of enemies. Perhaps there can be more of a sense of movement. FFX-2 kind of touched on having a battle system with more freedom of movement. I say, why not take it a step further?

It's just a thought. A grand-scale turn based combat game just seems so cool in my imagination, much more cinematic and strategic than the button-mash fare we usually get. Just as the turn based RPGs of yonder expanded in the form of ATB and proper attack queues and little twitch triggers, I think that if it had stayed dominant and more inclusive to new creative types, we would have seen this sort of natural gameplay evolution continue.

But even turn based games in the purest of sense could benefit from technology. Games are getting to that phase where designers are learning how to craft an experience that responds and adapts to the player. That would be something really cool to have in a turn based game. Gone would be the need to button mash through a thousand old battles. (And, yes, I realize FF8 tried this, but there's a big difference between rewarding the player and throwing level-scaling into the mix.) It's not something easily done on old tech. Hell, it isn't easily done on new tech. I just cannot believe that something as boundless as a turn based combat system has hit its technological ceiling. There's no way.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2013, 03:23:12 AM by Sagacious-T » Logged
Tomara
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« Reply #65 on: December 24, 2013, 04:00:10 AM »

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The most obvious would be improved AI. I also think very seamless transitioning between the game world and combat would be really engaging. This is going to sound dumb, but when I first started reading about Final Fantasy 13, the in-combat screens looked so much like the out of combat screens that I thought it was completely without the usual transition/phasing into combat mode.

Since this sort of 'phasing' into combat limits the more insignificant battles to nothing but trivial timesinks, it would be interesting to see an approach where the two states of gameplay existed in near perfect synchronicity. Perhaps there may be goals greater than the immediate removal of enemies. Perhaps there can be more of a sense of movement. FFX-2 kind of touched on having a battle system with more freedom of movement. I say, why not take it a step further?

You know, I think removing a good portion of those insignificant battles could actually be a big improvement. At least it'd be a great place to start. The plus side of a turn-based or semi-turn-based battlesystem is that it allows for more complex strategies involving multiple party members. Very few games really take advantage of that, encouraging the most basic attack/heal patterns instead. I really enjoyed FFXIII(-2)'s battlesystem but it only got to shine during tougher battles. For random mooks a decent set-up and mindlessly pressing A/X would suffice, which is, of course, boring. Remove 80% of the mooks (but keep a few respawning once for the people who want to grind for a bit), add a bunch of mid-bosslevel enemies (with proper rewards attached) and it could be much more fun to play.
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« Reply #66 on: December 24, 2013, 05:12:47 AM »

I'm all for fewer, more challenging/interesting mooks. At the same time, when there's such a large storyline, not having enough gameplay to pad it out leaves you with a MGS4 situation where you just.want.to.play.the.damn.game.already.

That's why I think the solution of intertwining the story progression, cutscenes, etc, with actual gameplay could be a nice way to bridge that gap. Another FFXIII tidbit, when the game was first being hyped, One of S-E's PR points was that the combat system was supposed to simulate very closely the combat seen in Advent Children. In hindsight, that sounds absolutely ridiculous, but we had no idea what was possible at the time. In retrospect, a type of turn based combat system that is tied to an active, moving cutscene in which the player can guide the direction through the combat itself is an incredible but tantalizing concept.

Another solution--one that I believe most of us would be in favor of--would be to have much shorter, much higher quality games.  I admit, I do enjoy the grand adventure feel of the longer games, but we aren't dumb kids playing NES anymore. The 10-hour starts have got to go.
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« Reply #67 on: December 24, 2013, 09:49:31 AM »

The main difference I see between real strategy games and RPG "puzzle boss" type encounters is that a real strategy game requires you to think more than one move ahead.  You don't need to only consider the immediate situation but also how you're going to be setting yourself up in the future.  "Puzzle bosses" don't really demand that.  You just need to know that when the boss does X you need to do Y and that's it.

So how do you do that in an RPG?  For one thing you could have meaningful buffs/debuffs/status ailments.  You could also experiment with variable cool down times for different moves so for example a big attack might leave you vulnerable for a length of time so you actually have to think about when to use it.  And for the love of god make healing actually take some effort.  Make it take time instead of being able to restore the entire party from 1 HP to full health with a single spell.  A corollary to this is that bosses shouldn't have attacks that take the entire party from full health to one 1HP in one unavoidable hit unless you just want the game to become an exercise in frustration.  And in general resources should be limited so you have to be careful about when to use them.  The biggest problem I see with most RPGs is when there are little to no consequences for just spamming your best attack all of the time.  If there are no consequences for that then there's no reason to do anything else and of course there's no strategy.  The end result is just a contest of numbers.

But moving away from RPGs for a second, if you're claiming that turn-based games in general can't do better than "puzzle boss" type challenges then as a fan of turn-based strategy games in addition to RPGs I think you're friggin crazy.  The real question that we should be asking is why are so many RPGs lacking the elements needed to offer strategic challenges.  Why do they need to resort to petty "puzzle boss" type tricks in the first place?

With strategy games, it's a lot easier to introduce complexity because you've already added something really important that's within the control of the player, which is movement range and distance, and I was sorta excluding strategy games when I made my earlier posts. Scaling back how effective player movement are is certainly one way to do it, but I think the only difference there is that you'll go "I better cast regen at 70%" instead of "i better cast cure at 10%". Either way once you figure out what the boss is doing you can either account for every (or most) contingency (if it's a random rolling boss) or whatever preset strategy (if it's a puzzle boss). I think just by the nature of how a typical turn-based RPG works once you figure out what a boss does you can't fight it again without it being really easy. One way to toss more into this is to either encourage the player to figure out new ways to beat the boss (through a class system or lots and lots of skills).

I think a question is, "why do other genres not need to program as complex bosses to give a fight that can be different/exciting each time?" In addition to the aforementioned having no time pressure (twitching etc), the player's input will have no difference each time in an RPG either, unless we're talking about miss rates- I suppose that could be one way to do it, make it so that there's a chance that cures etc have a chance to either fail or be less effective, but usually when you throw in random chance like that t ends up being frustrating, especially if the game is punishing (ie "lol you lost, redo a 2-hour dungeon"). I guess another way would be to just somehow add time pressure on a turn-based battle system, like tournament chess (or active ATB).

There's also what I said before, introducing human opponents, who are unpredictable. Just too bad AI's definitely nowhere near that sophisticated yet.


I agree with the notion of doing something to fix status effect spells. Namely, by getting rid of those "high-tier" status effects like Death, Break, Stop, and Frog/Pig/Mini

I don't think they need to remove those, I think what they should do is just allow you access to the Bestiary at all times during battle (or make it an ability to punish those with a bad memory I guess?), but you will not get info in the Bestiary until you use a scanning ability or spell. I recently played FFIV TCC and Scan just plain didn't work on a bunch of bosses, which just confused me since that's the whole damn point of the spell.

Aeolus, I don't feel that any of the changes you suggested are really addressing the core problem, namely the lack of depth and complexity.  Maybe the changes you suggest make more logical sense, but I don't see them fundamentally changing the way the game is played.

Let me give an example of the sort of thing I was thinking of.  Status effects don't necessarily have to be big things.  Let's imagine introducing a 'stunned' status.  Certain big attacks could have a chance of leaving an enemy stunned for a short period of time and as a result they could be more vulnerable to a follow-up attack.  But this is still being done with an attack so you don't feel like it's a complete waste even if the status doesn't take.  Anyway, a stunned enemy should take more damage from another attack and probably lose the chance to dodge it.  This introduces the opportunity to make types of attacks that are particularly effective against stunned enemies, for instance another character could have an attack that does a lot of damage but has a low hit chance normally.  It might not be a good attack to use against an able-bodied enemy but if you get the chance to use it against somebody who has already been stunned then suddenly it seems like a great thing to do.

Now let's add another wrinkle.  I said it should take a 'big attack' to cause stun.  Well, let's make that actually mean something in the game.  A big attack should leave the attacker vulnerable for a short period of time.  Not as bad as being stunned, but let's say there's a short 'guard down' period because they just make a giant swing with their big hammer or whatever and can't readily defend themselves.  You might want to have yet another character cover them during this period to reduce the chance of being counterattacked.  So instead of just whacking the enemies with each character's best attack every turn you have to coordinate the actions of three different characters to maximize their abilities.  But the end result should be (if it's balanced right, anyway) more effective than each character acting individually.  Now introduce a stamina mechanic or something similar to limit how often these special abilities can be used and you really have to start thinking about when to use them.

And let's talk about magic for a second.  Anyone in the process of casting a spell should have a similar 'guard down' status at the very least.  Furthermore let's take a page for D&D rules and say that there should be a possibility of interrupting spell casting if the caster takes sufficient damage during the casting period.  There's another area where a cover type ability would be genuinely useful, to make sure your casters can actually cast.

None of this really demands dramatic changes in the mechanics of play, but having these abilities that interact with and complement each other dramatically increases the complexity of play.  That's what the goal ought to be.

That's pretty much exactly how Grandia works (aside from the stuns being limited), which is one of my favorite battle systems.

I have been too busy/lazy to respond to this thread properly but I wanted to say that I don't think we've seen the pinnacle of turn based gameplay in RPGs, not by a long shot, and that more powerful hardware certainly holds possibilities for combat system growth.

The most obvious would be improved AI.

I can't say I'm super-familiar with gaming technology today, but sadly I'm pretty sure they're still using the same type of tricks they've done with the AI forever. The AI never "thinks", it just does xyz for a given situation. I guess the problem is that there's not even really a demand for "smart" enemies in video games (When the last time you saw a game advertisement go "the computer will respond to you in real time etc"...aside from maybe casual pet simulators, hah).

Quote
I also think very seamless transitioning between the game world and combat would be really engaging. This is going to sound dumb, but when I first started reading about Final Fantasy 13, the in-combat screens looked so much like the out of combat screens that I thought it was completely without the usual transition/phasing into combat mode.

I think the sad thing is that MMOs used to be the go-to genre for this and recently they've become less and less like continuous worlds and just become a giant central hub with little instances for people to funnel into. I wouldn't really mind another game that tried it like FF12, though maybe this time they should actually let whoever's making it finish the game.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2013, 09:51:48 AM by Hathen » Logged
MeshGearFox
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« Reply #68 on: December 24, 2013, 03:04:31 PM »

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There's also what I said before, introducing human opponents, who are unpredictable. Just too bad AI's definitely nowhere near that sophisticated yet.

Here's the thing -- I don't think you need human-like AI to have an interesting game. You need an opponent that's difficult enough to make you /fully exploit the game mechanics available to you/ in order to win.

Managing that really doesn't require anything more complex than giving the AI opponent a bit more awareness of the situation and implementing a proper decision tree of some sort -- let the AI change their strategy based on the actual situation instead of relying on a single, hard-coded pattern, and maybe switching it up after a certain HP threshold is reached.

I also think that having boss fights against multiple enemies could add a lot -- make an actual party dynamic for the enemy.
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« Reply #69 on: December 24, 2013, 03:28:18 PM »

That's why Pokemon is great.  If I want to battle an opponent with human intelligence, I'll go online and battle another human.  I don't want to battle a human when I'm progressing the story. 
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« Reply #70 on: December 24, 2013, 03:34:20 PM »

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There's also what I said before, introducing human opponents, who are unpredictable. Just too bad AI's definitely nowhere near that sophisticated yet.

I'm pretty sure it's going to be the next big cool factor in this newest console generation. Games are getting realistic in a scary way these days, good examples are The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls.

When the Kinnect was announced I remember a video footage of a user talking directly to a boy using AI, it was impressive to see but I never heard of that project again.

As MeshGearFox said human-like AI isn't required to make RPGs fun, but it could definitely be a very good experience to live.

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« Reply #71 on: December 24, 2013, 04:15:34 PM »

That's why Pokemon is great.  If I want to battle an opponent with human intelligence, I'll go online and battle another human.  I don't want to battle a human when I'm progressing the story. 

But then you get min-maxing meta-gamers that pretty much take all the fun out of picking and choosing your team out of whatever.
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« Reply #72 on: December 24, 2013, 05:33:27 PM »


Here's the thing -- I don't think you need human-like AI to have an interesting game. You need an opponent that's difficult enough to make you /fully exploit the game mechanics available to you/ in order to win.


The greatest truth expressed yet in this thread (or at least out of what I have read).

That really IS the long and the short of what makes battles enjoyable in an RPG for me.

We may disagree about breath of fire Mesh, but I couldn't agree more on this point. Well put, sir.
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« Reply #73 on: December 24, 2013, 05:54:00 PM »

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We may disagree about breath of fire Mesh

Debuffs and status attacks don't work on bosses in BoF1 or 2, and neither do the undead-targetting spells. This isn't a matter of opinion and it's not something debatable -- this is how the games are programmed. Your only options in boss fights are attacking, using element-appropriate attack magic, or healing. BoF1 has I think four buffs. BoF2 has three, but one of these doesn't work due to a glitch.

I can't see any way that you could approach these games strategically -- you don't have the tools for it.
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« Reply #74 on: December 24, 2013, 06:01:31 PM »

Don't get me started on "old school" RPGs where buffs, debuffs, and status effects don't work on bosses.  Why should they get special treatment?  Again, that's why I love Megami Tensei games, because buffs, debuffs, status effects, and defending are useful and necessary aspects of battles.  

And I'm also of the opinion of "realistic does not equate to fun."  Shen Mue's level of realism was overdone and rendered the game utterly boring.  Too much waiting and too much "hurry up and wait." 
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