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Combat: turn-based or realtime?

Hi all,

I'm at a sort of crossroads with my current game project, facing a major design decision: should combat be turn-based or realtime???

The overall theme is lighthearted fantasy/D&D spoof with most of the gameplay being standard point'n'click in a fairly open game world, but there are also a number of short top-down combat sequences, which you need to win to proceed in the game.


  • Keeps the same pace ("click at your leisure") as the rest of the game, which might work better for point'n'click fans.
  • Probably feels more like getting out your battle map and miniatures during a pen and paper RPG session.
  • Doesn't get the adrenaline flowing.


  • Provides a different type of challenge and a change of pace in the game, while not feeling quite as stupid as QTEs (sorry, just not a big fan of that concept!)
  • Might feel frustrating to players with a preference for the straight point'n'click style.

I have a playable (but ugly) prototype version running, which simply skips over the combat sequences, so would really like to get these into the game now, but either choice will obviously take some time and effort to implement, so if any of you have comments on this I'd love to hear them - particularly with references to specific games you've played and either enjoyed or hated.

The plan is to not allow saving during combat, so it's like a very simple puzzle that must be solved in one go.

Any input much appreciacted! :o3


  • I always liked the ATB system in the older Final Fantasy games - essentially turn based, but you'd be open to more attacks if you wait too long to do anything.
  • edited January 2016
    Interesting - not a bad idea at all.

    BTW, @ChrisIceBox - isn't there a stab at the turn based thing in Da New Guys: Day Of The Jackass with that Brain game that's for sale at the wrestling place: "Turn Based - More Than 200 Hours Of Cutscenes" - quoting from memory here .... :-D
  • edited January 2016

    For a top-down view I'd say turn-based would be a more natural fit. If you go real-time, then I'd change the perspective as well. 

    It also depends on whether or not you can move the camera independently of the character/s. Look at some other top-down or isometric games:

    GTA(original): Realtime - terrible combat, camera locked on player position

    Command Conquer: Realtime - good combat, moveable camera

    X-Com: Turn based - good combat, moveable camera 

  • @Snebjorn: Good memory!  Only a fond jab - you actually get to play the game-within-a-game about midway-through.
  • edited January 2016
    ChrisIceBox : Haha - yes, but I don't remember watching those hundreds of hours of cutscenes. I assume that's because I didn't play the CD-ROM version.

    Deckard_89 : Discussed it with some of my mates down at the local bar last night, and everyone said I should go turn-based, specifically mentioning X-Com as a good system.

    So turn-based it is - and the time limit thing suggested by Chris makes a lot of sense. It introduces a very tiny bit of adrenaline rush.

    I just remembered playing Panzerblitz (old Avalon Hill board game) with one of my friends, who took forever to make his moves - I once built a complete Airfix model during a single game while waiting for him. ~X(

    EDIT: Including painting ...
  • edited January 2016
    Have tested Turn Based Toolkit (!/content/10686) for this, and it seems to be a perfect fit. It does require a bit of scripting to integrate with AC, but it handles almost everything I'm going to need out of the box.

    Threw together this quick demo in a couple of hours (using characters from Mixamo) featuring two AI-controlled groups fighting each other - next step will be using actual character stats from AC for the combat scenes, and returning results to AC.

    Check it out here: TBTK test scene

  • Got the data integration working at a very basic level - still not much to look at, but now I have the two systems talking to each other.

    Here's a test scene with our heroes fighting some goblins:
  • Nice! Already has an addictive look to it.
  • Constructing and testing these small combat scenes is actually a lot of fun.  :)

    Will be working on full integration over the next days - well, as full as it can get without sacrificing the ability to upgrade - and hope to have a short demo online soon.
  • Umm.. very nice idea, I can see AC combining very well with turn based games, as they both are styles which allow one to think. Still, it may be kinda late, but you could have checked out Phantom Brave which, due to it's moving style, can get as fast paced as you can. The main difference is that you can move all the characters like in regular regular direct control, but each character has a "radius" of how far they can go. When you get close enough you can quickly attack (by pressing action button twice) or select a skill from a menu.

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