Author Topic: Reconciling real time and turn based gameplay  (Read 279 times)

Dincio

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Reconciling real time and turn based gameplay
« on: April 07, 2017, 11:51:10 AM »
So, I've been working on my first roguelike game for a couple of weeks now, and what you could call the game's "engine" is now completed (well, the main parts are... field of view and items/inventory are still in progress, for example). At first the game was going to be a classic roguelike (think ADOM or DCSS) and so the gameplay was going to be purely turn-based - in the sense that time moves when you move - and enemies had different speeds which determined how many turns they could perform every iteration of the game loop. Then, though, I thought that since there were a lot of games like that already, I could come up with an alternative movement system. What at first came up to mind, of course, was real-time gameplay. Still, I didn't want to abandon the grid-based movement (since the engine was already wired up that way...) and also I didn't want to lose the typical complexity associated with roguelikes. Above all, I wanted the player to be able to access tons of character builds; including a lot of attack/action moves to choose from that would be scattered around the dungeon. So, what I came up with is a weird real-time/turn-based hybrid mechanic: every entity has a visible (important for strategy) energy bar which fills up with time at different paces (ergo, each entity has a different intrinsic speed stat) and actions such as walking or attacking deplete the bar. Special moves, such as ranged magic attacks, cost more energy than normal attacks, and of course each move has its own energy cost. Controlling the character was a tricky design issue... since having a lot of moves to choose from doesn't go well in hand with having a limited amount of time to use them. So I came up with a double-directional system. QWEASDZXC controls movement, while TYUGHJBNM (which is another "square of keys" next to the QWERASDZXC square... check it on your keyboard and you'll unerstand...) handles special moves (which also have ranges of different shapes and scales - think things like a three blocks wide columns of fire, or a sphere of ice, etc...). To switch moves, you use the number keys (1 through 0) and you can pause the game any time to adjust the keys in any combination possible with the moves you have aquired so far). Enemies also act the same way as you do, balancing their energy to attack you in different ways, but also to escape from you or charge (since movement also costs energy, interesing situations arise when, for example, your energy bar is full and you spend it all on an almost instant burst of multiple steps).

Currently, I implemented both systems in two different branches of the project, but I have to pick one to start balancing the game and implemeting the magic system... I'm asking here, out of indecision, but also out of inexperience (since I'm not an hardcore roguelike player, much less a rougelike developer...), if you think the time-based system will work out in the end, or if a more classical, "rougelikish", turn mechanich is preferable. If you did not understand well what I'm going for (I wouldn't be surprised... english is not my language of choice  ;D), here's a link to the game:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/qorjvw31ilbwa0g/RandomRL.rar?dl=0

Of course it is only a prototype to show off the engine... so there is a single type of monster with a rudimentary AI which attacks the player only if he/she appears in its immediate vicinity, otherwise moving randomly. Also, if you die, you just stop existing and the game goes on without you... aaand there are no special moves yet, just a melee attack, which is performed by moving onto the desired target. Do not talk to the tuturial guy for more than 3 times or it will crash your game...

The game was programmed using C++, sfml and a couple more utility libraries.

Thanks a lot for your attention :)

EDIT: I've been playing around with the game, adding more enemy types and expanding the AI, and I actually find the real-timish mechanics sort of fun... attacks are not just bumping into monsters, but require quick thinking and some level of timing to accomplish right. So I will be continuing down this road, adding items and ranged special moves/spells next. Still, I will leave this discussion open for feedback and for inspiring other developers which may want to try something similar. I will also probably start a development log in another section of the forums soon.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 05:34:08 PM by Dincio »

Krice

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Re: Reconciling real time and turn based gameplay
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2017, 08:58:37 PM »
if you think the time-based system will work out in the end, or if a more classical

It's hard to say, but you should know it the best as the developer. Roguelikes (and other turn-based games) are turn-based for a very good reason. If you don't understand why that is, then you are not developing a roguelike game and should find a more suitable forum for your non-roguelike game.

getter77

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Re: Reconciling real time and turn based gameplay
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2017, 09:15:19 PM »
It sounds funky, but it could work---only thing that comes to mind is something (infamous) like Die By The Sword.

Keep at it I suppose---sounds like a hell of a balance to strike between user usability and complexity, but it has a chance.
Brian Emre Jeffears
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Dincio

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Re: Reconciling real time and turn based gameplay
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2017, 09:43:38 PM »
Krice:
Well as I said I am not a seasoned roguelike player (I haven't even beated a single one of them apart from FTL, which is not even a roguelike in the poper sense :P), but I did play the classics and was very much inspired to make a game that burrowed the majority of their characteristics (such as randomly generated levels, permanent death and the grid-based maps). I understand that turn based game play is much different than real time gameplay and that, in the foremost, the tactical side is very much deeper than in the latter, since the player has all the time he needs to think through a difficult situation rather than being forced to make a move because of a time limit. Still I wanted to add something new to the genre, while retaining a lot of its main features... and that is the main reason I choose this forum to discuss my dilmmas, and also for my future development log.

As a side note, the main source that inspired me to adopt this system was an episode of the podcast "roguelike radio" in which real-time speed runs where explained. Basically, people would play a traditional turn-based roguelike as fast as possible to increase their score. So, I thought, why not make a game where this is forced on the player?

Still, if I am not permitted to talk about this game on this forum, where would you suggest that I start a development log for getting feedback (if you have any ideas... if not, I'll just try to figure it out)?

getter77:
Your words actually kind of underline my madness, compelling me to revert to my original concept and just make a normal rl XD but now that I have developed the system and all, I'm actually curious of where this concept might bring me... so I guess that I will just keep iterating over it for some time, keeping the complexity down, and seeing if something enjoyable comes out. The question is, still, if I can keep posting the game on this forums, or if I should go elsewhere for feedback.

All of you:
Thanks for your attention!

getter77

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Re: Reconciling real time and turn based gameplay
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2017, 12:43:32 AM »
Release updates and such are always welcome as the project goes places---even if the light at the end of the tunnel may well be an oncoming train, the journey still has value beyond the destination.

As to other places that may well have yet more curious eyes, there's always Reddit's Roguelikes or Roguelikedev parts or perhaps Bay12 or somewhere like tigsource.
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Krice

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Re: Reconciling real time and turn based gameplay
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2017, 09:44:23 AM »
Still, if I am not permitted to talk about this game on this forum, where would you suggest that I start a development log for getting feedback

Well, you can talk about it of course. Most 7DRL games are not roguelikes and trying to keep the genre "clean" has proved to be quite impossible anyway, so... You never know, it may be an interesting attempt to follow and in my opinion this is the best forum for games that are somewhat close to roguelikes.

If you think about real time role-playing games then I would say Dungeon Master -type games did it right (Legend Of Grimrock as a recent example of that genre). They are real time, but they are quite slow so you have the time to make decisions. In some role-playing games you can actually pause the real time to make decisions, which I think is hilarious, because it's quick fixing a fundamental flaw in the design.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2017, 09:50:25 AM by Krice »

Dincio

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Re: Reconciling real time and turn based gameplay
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2017, 11:01:25 AM »
I will dfinitely check the suggested sites, thanks for the advice! I think it is important to have places full of people willing to give opinions on your game (at least I hope  ;D), expecially if the game will get bigger in the future.

Legends of Grimrock looks awesome... I don't have any other words to describe it XD, AND it is exactly what I was going for, so thanks a lot for having referenced it; now I actually have a better way to explain to people the mechanics for the game by using comparison. I am very corious of how attack moves are managed in LOG and I will definetly buy the game and try it to hopefully get some good ideas. Also, having seen a commercially successfull (even thought I'm not really going for commercial success any time soon...) game that uses something similar to what I came up with really conforts me and my decisions.

Yes, I've always thought the same about games that are "real-time-but-not-really-because-you-can-pause"  ;D but even thought they have that awkward atmosphere I still enjoy the benefits of having a qualitative (and not quatitative) way of moving around and slashing and/or firing missiles at enemies, while still reataining the ability to take "turns" of arbitrary lengths. Still I don't think I will use those kind of pauses in my game; just regular pauses in which you can switch moves around but the board is covered up... and maybe I will permit them only if the character is not engaged in combat; even thought this will bring down some of the classical "improv tactical decisions" in which you scroll your giant inventory for the right combination of potions to get you out of a hairy situation, which are a main characteristic of roguelikes, I think... but well you can't have a full barrel and a drunk wife (as they say around here).

Thanks a lot for your suggestions. I think I've gained enough from this thread; could you tell me how to lock it? I'm kind of new to this forum - and to forums in general - so I don't really know how things work...