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So I'm designing a turn-based strategy game ...
23yrold3yrold
Member #1,134
March 2001
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Just looking for some brainstorming here, which I'll get started. I have a little turn-based tactics game I'm making, and while I polish what is essentially the early engine and API before moving on to more of a beta phase, I'm putting thought to the specifics of the gameplay, and how some things might work.

As an example, while I'm cribbing from the Final Fantasy Tactics manual heavily, I've decided to do without the option to determine the direction your character faces after their turn. In practice, I find this led to a lot of dancing as you waste your movement turn just going around to the back of an enemy you were directly adjacent to to begin with before attacking. In my current engine, A faces B to attack, and B automatically faces back, as hits, misses, criticals, etc. ignore facing directions when calculated. This may end up a good idea, it may not, easy enough to fix later. If nothing else, the gameplay is more fast-paced without that little detail. I also feel like this game is going to focus a lot on terrain control as units block and zone other units, and the dancing doesn't fit in that well.

Basic things I have already:

  • Movement within a range that differs from class to class.

  • Melee attacks; the only combat currently implemented.

  • Speed modifiers; some classes get their turns more often, and this is impacted by how much you do your turn (skip movement and attacking, and your turn comes again quicker).

  • Terrain cost in movement; you can go further on grass than mud and water.

  • Simple menu system that allows one attack and one move (in any order) per turn.

  • Tooltips and context-sensitive onscreen hints (you can see the health/energy of one unit there as I hover over him, and the text at the bottom of the screen changes depending on the current action).

  • In-game map editing, saving, and loading

  • Screen pans when you hold Space, and screen snaps to player when their turn comes up (plus the spinning yellow cursor)

Things I'm adding shortly:

  • Ranged effects, like healing and projectile attacks

  • AOE effects, like black magic (three hexagons, and maybe seven)

  • Character death and resurrection.

  • Implement more specific classes with innovative abilities, detailed below.

  • "Monsterous" creatures that take up three tiles. Movement is going to be a pain to calculate.

Things I'll add later, in a perfect world:

  • A shop component where players can deck out their team in better gear and consumables. This will operate like Warhammer ie: you get a gold budget, and spend on what you want while your opponent spends an equal amount on what they want. Better weapons? Better armor? Boots that increase movement rate? Health and energy potions? All classes can use items btw (unlike FFT, where only chemists could).

  • A final, polished game would have to be in 3D, and the map would be stored as a tree structure to allow height, plus multiple levels (allowing you to walk over and under bridges, for example). My luck with 3D has been poor, so not sure how I'll start on that. Probably either XNA or Unity3D.

  • A version made in Unity, Flash, or Java, to be playable in Facebook so you can fight your friends online. Either realtime, or (more likely) turn-based, like chess by mail. :p

  • AI that isn't dumber than a bag of hammers, though the focus will be on multiplayer.

  • Graphics that aren't trash. Yes, I stole FFT sprites and made everything else in like 10 minutes of Photoshop.

Classes I intend to implement:

  • Warrior: Strongest melee, big movement rate, lots of health. The single target damage dealer. Can also cleave multiple adjacent hexagons, and throw players.

  • Ninja: can hide, and ambush enemies that come by. Fast turn speed. Has some utility abilities, and decent melee.

  • Archer: Carbon copy of FFT class; ranged single target fire with both a minimum and maximum range. Can also do line-of-sight shots along a row of hexagon tiles with no range limitation.

  • Paladin: Can defend a position by not allowing enemy movement past him within a one-tile radius, and come to an ally's defense by taking their hits. Tough class with crowd control and support abilities.

  • Priest: healer, resser, buff bot. Squishy, usually cowering behind a paladin. :)

  • Mage: AOE attacks, teleports, can conjure (attackable) walls to blocks players.

  • Summoner: This is a little different from the FFT class, which I always just thought of as a mage ripoff. Summoners in my game will be able to summon two types of entities; either a static creature that buffs or damages all players in a given vicinity over several turns before leaving, or an actual extra creature that you get to use for X number of turns before it despawns. A possible third type might be a weaker, uncontrollable NPC with some automated attacks that (usually) target the enemy.

Any other ideas? I honestly don't play many of these types of games, I just really liked FFT and FFTA, so experience is not on my side here. Throw out some ideas, tell me what might not work, give me some other games in the genre I could play for "inspiration".

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Neil Black
Member #7,867
October 2006
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When it is done, I want to play it.

I'd add in some mounted units. The lineup just doesn't seem complete without them.

Also, while facing doesn't matter, perhaps flanking could have some effect. I like little tactical advantages like that. You're already planning on doing terrain. Does that include high-ground advantages?

23yrold3yrold
Member #1,134
March 2001
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Yes, high ground will boost damage for melee and archery at the very least.

What effect should flanking have on gameplay, and how would mounted units play differently from non-mounted ones?

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Thomas Fjellstrom
Member #476
June 2000
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What effect should flanking have on gameplay

In D&D derived games flanking provides a bonus to your attack chance. That is you're more likely to hit.

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23yrold3yrold
Member #1,134
March 2001
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That seems like what I'm trying to get away from though. Maybe you could get a bonus to hit if more than one of your units is adjacent to the unit you're attacking since you're ganging up or swarming him, but a bonus to flanking like that just seem to encourage the same wasted movement as you run laps around each other. I know flanking on paper sounds logical, but I can't think of a way to implement it in-game that doesn't seem silly (and slow combat).

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Neil Black
Member #7,867
October 2006
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Mounted units would be faster. That's basically the purpose, a fast moving unit.

Also, you seem to be trying to avoid all the detailed positioning that makes tactical games fun (at least for me). Movement is important to combat, and I like games that reflect that. If you chose to go another route that's your decision, and you can just ignore my flanking idea.

Thomas Fjellstrom
Member #476
June 2000
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That seems like what I'm trying to get away from though. Maybe you could get a bonus to hit if more than one of your units is adjacent to the unit you're attacking since you're ganging up or swarming him, but a bonus to flanking like that just seem to encourage the same wasted movement as you run laps around each other. I know flanking on paper sounds logical, but I can't think of a way to implement it in-game that doesn't seem silly (and slow combat).

It makes sense, the player is unable to move as much, so its harder to dodge.

Quote:

Maybe you could get a bonus to hit if more than one of your units is adjacent to the unit you're attacking since you're ganging up or swarming him

Since you're not really using square positions, its almost the same. And I can see changing it to a "gang" bonus instead as you describe, It doesn't really need to be full flanking.

But then you don't really need to provide a bonus at all. Its up to you :)

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23yrold3yrold
Member #1,134
March 2001
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Mounted units would be faster. That's basically the purpose, a fast moving unit.

I've already allowed for units with short turn waits and long movement ranges in my design. At the very least, the warrior will have the latter, and the ninja possibly both. Is there something else unique a mounted unit would bring to the table, or does in other games?

It makes sense, the player is unable to move as much, so its harder to dodge.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding "flanking" here. If you mean one or more units pressing another unit from multiple directions, then sure thing. That would be a great way to pressure your opponent to back off. I would be all for that. It's the single unit, one-on-one waltzing around the map poking each other in the butt that I'm trying to avoid.

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verthex
Member #11,340
September 2009
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Just put nukes in the game. That will reduce everything down to one turn and no one will have to work hard to build up shit.

spellcaster
Member #1,493
September 2001
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Mounted units have "higher ground" to ground units, but are vulnerable to lance carriers.
You could also give them a "ride by" (attack several fields while passing them) or "overrun" attack (push back a unit).

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Neil Black
Member #7,867
October 2006
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I've already allowed for units with short turn waits and long movement ranges in my design. At the very least, the warrior will have the latter, and the ninja possibly both. Is there something else unique a mounted unit would bring to the table, or does in other games?

Not really that I can think of. It just always kind of makes sense for mounted units to be fast. And I guess the association has started going both ways for me, I've started thinking that fast units should be mounted. But really, when I look at it, there's no need for them to be mounted.

Neither of my suggestion have helped you at all. :(

EDIT:

I like what spellcaster said.

Thomas Fjellstrom
Member #476
June 2000
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Maybe I'm misunderstanding "flanking" here. If you mean one or more units pressing another unit from multiple directions, then sure thing. That would be a great way to pressure your opponent to back off. I would be all for that.

Flanking in D&D is when you have two of your own units, and one is on one side of an enemy, and the other is directly across from the first, one on each side of the enemy.

|---|---|---|
| a | b | a |
|---|---|---|

You can get some waltzing, the enemy is going to want to move out from between your guys if he doesn't think he can kill one of your guys with one or two hits (each of your guys get flanking bonuses).

You don't get a bonus just for being beside the enemy, thats the only way you can do normal melee hits.

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weapon_S
Member #7,859
October 2006
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It's looking nice. (Especially the ripped sprites ;) )
The speed modifier sounds nice. Does that mean each unit gets a turn separately ?(i.e. not your team as a whole). Do units 'enter combat' (attack and receive a counter attack) or do they just 'deal damage'? Do units have to choose between defend and attack? (I.e. lose an attack turn when defending.) Do units get an extra disadvantage for attacking? Does skipping a turn also give you perks (when you are attacked)?
If the direction doesn't matter I would make it obvious in presentation: either they return to avatar like position or they move about randomly when standing still.
In Fire Emblem you have (pretty) big armies with big walking range; meaning if you place a unit wrong, it might be attacked by an force majeur of enemies. I'm saying this because if you have a small number of units with a small walking range (like the screenshot could suggest), it might take away a lot of the movement tactics (if you also don't have directions).
On the other hand the throwing warriors, blocking paladins and wall building mages seem to add some tactics. Do the mages get infinite attacks? Could you build a whole fortress of walls before the enemy reaches you?
How are items handled? Can you trade items on the battlefield? Or do you use items from one big pool?
BTW what does a 'screen pan' do?

Arvidsson
Member #4,603
May 2004

Have you implemented some sort of Zone of Control? i.e. if a unit moves next to an enemy unit they cannot move any further. This might make it easier to have some sort of flanking in the game without the tedious "dancing around" you described. Having units in a line basically makes this impossible for the enemy player if they try to flank a unit within the line.

Tobias Dammers
Member #2,604
August 2002
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What effect should flanking have on gameplay

In a real-world situation, flanking means to engage the enemy from the side, where they're more vulnerable (a line of archers can't safely fire sideways, except for the first few men), with a part of your army (typically the cavalry). The enemy cannot defend themselves well against such an attack, and has to rearrange their formation; depending on the terrain, there is also an element of surprise to the whole thing.
In terms of turn-based tactics, I'd translate this into both an advantage in hit chance and a penalty to the enemy's shields / armor (to simulate the surprise aspect), as well as a penalty to the enemy's ranged weapons (to account for the limited usefulness of a group of archers when firing sideways).

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spellcaster
Member #1,493
September 2001
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I wouldn't take direction into the equation since normally "facing" isn't an attribute of units in strategy games (I know there are games where facing is important).
I'd suggest also to use it to decrement the defense value of the flanked unit instead increasing the attack value of the flanking unit.

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23yrold3yrold
Member #1,134
March 2001
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Mounted units have "higher ground" to ground units, but are vulnerable to lance carriers.

"Lance carrier"? /goes off to Google ...

Quote:

You could also give them a "ride by" (attack several fields while passing them) or "overrun" attack (push back a unit).

Interesting idea. The warrior already has a push-back planned; the monstrous creatures could auto-attack units in range even when moving. Interesting ideas.

If it's not obvious, I'm more about the functionality and making classes to fill roles than making classes and then deciding what they can do. :)

You can get some waltzing, the enemy is going to want to move out from between your guys if he doesn't think he can kill one of your guys with one or two hits (each of your guys get flanking bonuses).

You don't get a bonus just for being beside the enemy, thats the only way you can do normal melee hits.

Right, looks like we're on the same page on that now. Easy enough to implement. :)

weapon_S said:

It's looking nice. (Especially the ripped sprites ;) )

This is my new secret for great graphics. PS: don't tell Square-Enix. >_>

Quote:

The speed modifier sounds nice. Does that mean each unit gets a turn separately ?(i.e. not your team as a whole).

Correct. If you could move all 5 at once you could swarm and kill an enemy character before they could defend themselves, retreat, or heal. Turns are based entirely on how fast the individual unit's initiative is independent of team, which means you could sometimes get a few units in a row from one team taking their turn. I may add checks so you can't have more than three units in a row from the same team act, just for balance.

Quote:

Do units 'enter combat' (attack and receive a counter attack) or do they just 'deal damage'?

Counter-attacks are definitely possible, but there's no combat "state".

Quote:

Do units have to choose between defend and attack? (I.e. lose an attack turn when defending.)

They can take one action in addition to moving. All units can attack, some units (like the paladin) have the option to set themselves defensively instead of attacking.

Quote:

Do units get an extra disadvantage for attacking?

They wait (slightly) longer for their next turn. That would be the only general disadvantage.

Quote:

Does skipping a turn also give you perks (when you are attacked)?

No combat perks. Skipping turns simply means you wait less time for the next turn.

Quote:

If the direction doesn't matter I would make it obvious in presentation: either they return to avatar like position or they move about randomly when standing still.

That might be interesting for aesthetics. I don't think it would constantly need to be pointed out that facing direction doesn't matter, but if they could intelligently face the direction of the most or closest threat that might help immersion.

Quote:

Do the mages get infinite attacks? Could you build a whole fortress of walls before the enemy reaches you?

No, I don't want crowd control to be a massive factor because no one likes being kited, stun locked, etc. Ice walls are good for blocking choke points, and don't last many turns. They'll last even less if the opponent wants to spend turns attacking it.

Mage attacks are not infinite; all special attacks take energy, which refills over time. If the mage spams big nukes he'll blow mana faster than he can regenerate it, but if he uses more standard attacks primarily (like fireballs) and uses the expensive stuff situationally, he'll be fine.

Quote:

How are items handled? Can you trade items on the battlefield? Or do you use items from one big pool?

Current plan is "big pool".

Quote:

BTW what does a 'screen pan' do?

Pan the screen. :) Let's you drag the mouse to scroll.

Have you implemented some sort of Zone of Control? i.e. if a unit moves next to an enemy unit they cannot move any further. This might make it easier to have some sort of flanking in the game without the tedious "dancing around" you described. Having units in a line basically makes this impossible for the enemy player if they try to flank a unit within the line.

The paladin has this ability exclusively; if he's defending, you shall not pass. I'm not sure I want to make it universal; it would just make the dancing larger. :)

Keep the thoughts coming; good ideas, and I'm open to changing my mind on a lot of current plans too. I think we can stop talking about flanking; that one will be in I think.

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Dario ff
Member #10,065
August 2008
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Is it me or a lot of recent games are using hexes for their maps and even their art style? (Crysis) I mean, Civ V is using Hexes too now, is it some kind of trend?

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OICW
Member #4,069
November 2003
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23 you might want to take a look at Battle for Wesnoth. It's a turn based strategy with fantasy setting. It's quite fast paced thanks to the mechanics and combat. It uses the principle you've described above - units are autofacing each attacker that engages them, so basically there's no flanking. However there are units with ability to "backstab" that when there's friendly unit right behind your enemy (like in the example TF posted).

Regarding the combat, I think you need to decide whether you want more tactical combat or fast paced. The tactical approach would be having the units some facing direction which would allow flanking i.e. attacks to the weak sides.

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Audric
Member #907
January 2001

Two memorable turn-based tactic games that don't take direction into account are Shining Force and Fire Emblem.

One thing I've always hated in Shining Force games is that your units can't occupy same position or displace each other, so the units that fail to kill an adjacent enemy acts as an obstacle for whooole turn, preventing any of your own units from going to the front line. It's very frustrating with units that have very random chance to hit and/or damage, you tend to waste whole turns waiting for Mr Useless to get out of the way.

It may be less of an issue in hex grid, but it depends on the average speed of units and how cramped the maps are going to be.

Fire Emblem has several features that help avoid this problem:
- Each player moves all his units in any order he wants: You choose the order, so you can plan ahead and change your plans if your attack doesn't turn as expected.
- Counter: The fight system makes the defending unit immediately counter-attack with as much efficiency as if it was his turn to attack: If you're strong against your opponent, it's not even in his interest to attack you.
- A 'rescue' action that allows a unit to remove an ally from the field, carry it for any amount of rounds, and drop it in an adjacent tile. The game has a size scale, to prevent unrealistic carrying (Your Little Prince is carrying a dragon rider ??), and mounted units have the extra bonus that they can rescue during their movement. This allows many tactical options for protecting vulnerable units, but also for freeing an important cell where you have to place a specific attacker for a decisive action.

CursedTyrant
Member #7,080
April 2006
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Dario ff said:

Is it me or a lot of recent games are using hexes for their maps and even their art style? (Crysis) I mean, Civ V is using Hexes too now, is it some kind of trend?

It has been used before.

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23yrold3yrold
Member #1,134
March 2001
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Dario ff said:

Is it me or a lot of recent games are using hexes for their maps and even their art style?

I'm just doing it because I've never done it before, and it seems appropriate for the game.

OICW said:

23 you might want to take a look at Battle for Wesnoth.

Will do!

Quote:

Regarding the combat, I think you need to decide whether you want more tactical combat or fast paced. The tactical approach would be having the units some facing direction which would allow flanking i.e. attacks to the weak sides.

You can have tactics without that kind of flanking (see chess, also I remember an old Sega tactics game not using it EDIT: Yes, Shining Force, that's the one) but it's something I'm still open too. I like the idea of damage bonuses based on how many guys are flanking your target. Maybe the monstrous creatures can have weak sides?

Audric said:

One thing I've always hated in Shining Force games is that your units can't occupy same position or displace each other, so the units that fail to kill an adjacent enemy acts as an obstacle for whooole turn, preventing any of your own units from going to the front line.

This I consider part of the tactics. The maps should be open enough that this is strategic and not frustrating. I like the rescue idea; maybe the mage should have a Teleport Ally spell that can also affect injured/dead units ...

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Thomas Fjellstrom
Member #476
June 2000
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Here's another D&D idea, Attacks of Opportunity. When an attacker comes in range, your player gets a chance at an attack before the attacker does (even if its still the attacker's turn). Like anything else in D&D though, its just a chance at possibly attacking, not a guarantee you'll get to attack, or for how much.

It even works if an attacker is rushing by one of your characters, as long as they are "within range" (in D&D, thats most often 5 feet, but can be larger for LARGE characters), you can get a chance to swipe at them as they run by, even if they aren't going to attack that specific character.

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23yrold3yrold
Member #1,134
March 2001
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It even works if an attacker is rushing by one of your characters, as long as they are "within range" (in D&D, thats most often 5 feet, but can be larger for LARGE characters), you can get a chance to swipe at them as they run by, even if they aren't going to attack that specific character.

That might be sticky for a game that determines your path via A*. Can you get to your destination tile without running past the melee-happy berserker? When mousing over the destination tile, I should probably highlight the path too ...

Audric said:

Counter: The fight system makes the defending unit immediately counter-attack with as much efficiency as if it was his turn to attack: If you're strong against your opponent, it's not even in his interest to attack you.

I don't want the game to be toooo counter-happy though. It's supposed to be more about tactics with a focus on terrain control and movement, not beefing up your warrior to the point where none dare approach him. :)

When an attacker comes in range, your player gets a chance at an attack before the attacker does (even if its still the attacker's turn). Like anything else in D&D though, its just a chance at possibly attacking, not a guarantee you'll get to attack, or for how much.

I can't say I'm huge on unnecessary random chance elements in a tactical game. Might be nice for a Ninja perk ...

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OICW
Member #4,069
November 2003
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You can have tactics without that kind of flanking

Sure, my bad, I've forgot to put "more tactical" above. I meant if you want more elaborate tactics such as those I've seen on a con where some guys played Warhammer 40k - the board game with miniatures.

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