Combat in IF

#1

Hey all.

I’m currently playing around with writing a single player, multi-character IF/CRPG hybrid game.

Exploration would be the meat of the game and would be classic IF.

With regards to resolving combat, clearly it would need to be interesting and tactical, as opposed to spamming ‘attack foo’ over and over again. I’m currently leaning towards switching over to a single screen tactical grid which would use letters to identify heroes and monsters instead of graphical icons. Would people find this weird or out of place? Another option might be to implement a combat system similar to the Bards Tale series, since it could be implemented entirely in words, although it would be less tactical. Thoughts? Which option would you prefer in said hypothetical game?

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#2

There appears to be a D20 combat system extension for Inform 7: inform7.com/extensions/Philip%20 … doc_0.html

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(Ryan Veeder) #3

It sounds like you have a strong idea of how big a slice of the player’s experience should consist of combat. Different mechanics will take different amounts of time to play through, and require different levels of involvement.

In Kerkerkruip, the player is fighting stuff all the time. The ATTACK combat system gives the player a lot of options, and understanding those options takes some work. That’s not a problem, because mastering the combat system is the game. (Not all of Kerkerkruip’s combat complexity is inherent to the underlying ATTACK paradigm but whatever.) We can imagine a non-combat-focused game that brings in all those rules for the purposes of just a few isolated combat encounters: Those encounters might have the potential to be tactically engrossing, but for players who don’t know the system ahead of time it would be difficult and annoying!

I wrote a combat system called “Ryan Veeder’s Perfect Combat” that I used in the middle of Winter Storm Draco and the end of The Roscovian Palladium. It’s a few steps beyond “attack [foo]” but it’s still really simple—I wouldn’t call it “tactical” probably. But I wanted to enable a halfway-interesting combat scene without forcing the player to learn a complex ruleset. I honestly don’t know how long a Perfect Combat battle feels to the player, though. I worry that they take too much time to figure out.

Including scattered combat encounters in an exploration-based game sounds like a tough trick to pull off, because, if the combat mechanics are appreciably complex, you want to work your way up from simple/easy encounters before asking the player to demonstrate mastery of the system—which you can only do by restricting the exploratory aspect. Not an impossible task, but certainly not a trivial one!

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#4

I just played Winter Storm Draco. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out what was going on in the combat scene, which seemed about right. It’s probably better thought of as a puzzle than tactical combat.

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(Ryan Veeder) #5

Thanks for the datum!

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(matt w) #6

One possible way to do this is suggested, though not exemplified, by Treasures of a Slaver’s Kingdom–which is definitely worth looking at if you’re interested in this kind of game. ToaSK basically has an “attack foo” kind of combat system IIRC, but most of the encounters you will initially have will waste you most of the time–the big metapuzzle of the game is figuring out which encounters you can target first in order to level up and handle the later encounters.

So one way to do this might be to gate the initial stages of this “maze of monsters” with encounters that were not only low-level but tactically simple. That way, by the time the player is ready to take on the higher-level monsters, they’ll have learned the system.

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