I'd like to start a little discussion on the options for combat systems in RPGs and adventure games:
IMHO, a combat system should be
- easy to grasp
- offer enough options to make it tactically interesting
- balanced, i.e. combat should pose a certain risk on the avatar, but he should not be doomed
- use player resources (such as rounds, arrows, spells, ...) in order to generate a resource sink for the game's economics
Anything else you can think of?
Now, here are the basic models for combat systems I came across:Bard's Tale / Wasteland style:
Combat is handled in text messages only. There is no visual display (apart from a static icon of the opponent) of the actual combat. The player (and party NPCs) and opponents take turns attacking each other. In each turn, a combattant has several options: Attacking, running, casting a spell, reloading, etc.Ultima V:
Quite similar (also turn-based), but there is no text display. The battle is shown on a special, top-down 2D battle arena map. This conveys a more realistic feeling for distance and constellation.Fallout:
Again, turn-based. Each combattant is assigned a number of 'action points', based on his agility, armor, etc. In each turn, he can use the APs to do almost anything he could do in non-combat mode: Accessing the inventory, reloading, unlocking doors, etc.; and of course, attacking. Each action has a different cost in terms of APs. The visuals are the same as for non-combat.Baldur's Gate II:
Real-time, with the option to pause the game. Basically, I don't like real-time combat in RPGs as it much too strongly emphasizes action. The option to pause the action interferes with my suspense of disbelief and is at least as unrealistic as a turn-based system. Without pausing, the strategic options are too few/ too difficult to make for interesting tactics.
One important aspect of any combat system is that it should be easy to implement (preferrably with as little 'specialized' code as possible). This is because combat is only a small part of any RPG / adventure game and shouldn't draw too many resources which are needed in game design / content development.
I tend towards the turn-based, action point system of Fallout. In this way, most of the game logic and visuals can be used for combat and non-combat, and the player has all the options he has in non-combat. However, the APs naturally limit his options and force him to think strategically. Also, the APs are one more tool to balance combat.
What do you think?