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Help me with my real time combat system

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zedword
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I am designing a board game and am trying to develop a real time combat system that enables strategic/tactical and meaningful choices. Everything I have come up with does not work in a real time environment. There are too many attack types and unit types to resolve combat at a glance (15 seconds or less). If I start stripping it away, the strategy peels aways with it.

My goal is to allow the player to assemble squads with units of varying strengths and specialties. Strategy will need to be changed on the fly depending on what the opponent is using. Combat is non randomized in most cases, and needs to be resolved in 15 seconds or less.

Has anyone attempted this with any degree of success? Right now I have pages and pages of notes detailing unit types, tiers, attack and damage and aarmor types, damage formulas, etc... but again, it all seems like too much for a real time system.

PS- this has been cross-posted on the BGG design forum

X3M
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Yes!Me!I attempted!I

Yes!
Me!
I attempted!
I failllllled! At making it Real Time. It simply has not been done properly before if it comes to combat.

This is what I got:
- So I kept it random turn based with "sub turns". Actions per turn if you will, some forced, some by "cutting in" of other players.
- I do have attack types and unit types (and can expand too without much trouble).
- Combat can be resolved within 1 to 5 minutes for 2 or more battling players. (would like to have it faster too but...)
- I do have several randomness added to the combat, but there is a certainty effect with the unit types and after spending certain experience.
- Unit types, yes, you get them if you design the right damage and armor together. Also, I have different ranges and speeds. This all combined gives unit types that are all useful. (An useless design with your formula means your formula isn't perfect).
- Tiers, sort of yes if you count a simple tech tree. CY builds barracks, which train Infantry. Some need more then 1 barracks. Same goes for my Jeeps and Tanks.
- Damage formulas? you mean balancing? What do you have? Do you mean calculating the costs of an unit? Or how they fight?

- PS- this has been cross-posted on the BGG design forum ?????????? Where?

Due to effects of the damages, damage types, armor types, speed and range. I get all kind of types in a natural way. Do you? These effects are comparable with the known RTS like C&C and StarCraft. Well, mostly C&C.
- All round units that can be meat in one situation, but support in another. This due to damage and armor types.
- Meat units that only serve as bait. Most are melee or short ranged. But some can be long ranged too.
- Support units that only participate when other units are around. The long ranged versions are good in destroying defences. Some are powerful enough to destroy a certain enemy before that enemy could reach them.
- Defences, which are stronger because they lack in speed.
- WALLS, yes. Walls that also can block.
- Hit and run units that have a lot of speed and range, however, are weak. Mostly used to annoy enemy units.
- Hit and run units that have only a lot of speed, they are used for harassing structures that are poorly defended.
- Super annoying units that do almost no damage, just stand there with a lot of armor. Harassing you from great distance. (With my old formula, they where twice as expensive, thus incorrect balanced, now they are a choice, a good choice).
- Juggernauts. They can have several weapons systems.
- Steam rollers. Lots of armor, medium amount of damage, slow in movement. Range, well, whatever.

But you need to see this yourself what kind of unit types you have. By looking at the statistics that are provided with the game.
What do you do for balancing?

Maybe you have seen this before on the Dune2K forum?

Toa Lewa
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Preference?

Is preserving the realtime aspect or preserving the strategy more important to you? I think I have a solution, but it is not exactly realtime.

X3M
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I went for strategy when I

I went for strategy when I had to make the choice.

But if you really want real time. There is a way if you have a deck of cards.
This was once my concept. But you could use it as a basis.

To have real time, you need to understand that all players play at the same time:
- They need to have the same amount of chances or actions if they want to have the feeling of fairness.
- And they are forced to make decisions within a period of time. 30 seconds, 1 minute. Whatever you think they need.
- Players don't want others to know what kind of decisions they make in that period of time. So there is need for hiding what they decide.
- Players also want to keep an eye on each other. So there needs to be a time of review. And there needs to be a time of consequences. This is not limited in time. No timer needed for this.

Now, if you play with cards, each player can draw a number of cards. Within the 1 minute, they decide what to do with these cards. Some are discarded, others are played. Each card is placed faced down.
If you think in the MTG style, then players simply wont know what the others did until the time ends. Then all are faced upwards.
If you think in Stratego, the cards keep faced down, unless there is action with the card. Then it is faced upwards. Then you could even choose to add the rule that they have to be faced down after the action.

Battling could occur if a player pushes one card to another card, in that same period of time. Or in a second period of time after the first one. Both cards are faced upwards in the review time to see which one bites the dust.

Please let me know what you think about it.

zedword
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Toa Lewa wrote:Is preserving

Toa Lewa wrote:
Is preserving the realtime aspect or preserving the strategy more important to you? I think I have a solution, but it is not exactly realtime.

Both are equally important. I am more concerned with making a strategic, real time game than with making a "perfect" emulation of RTS video games. We have computers for that. I would rather use clever board and card game mechanics.

Right now I am toying with unit cards with 1-3 traits on them that can be assembled into squads of 1-3 and compared at a glance.

zedword
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to X3M

Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I am not ready to give up the Real Time aspect. It is already the core of my game's economy. I just need to find a clever combat mechanic that fits.

1 to 2 minutes is too long for a battle to resolve in my game. The board state is changing constantly, in real time. Ideally combat will be resolved in 15 seconds or less. There is no chance involved (just like in computer RTS), so no need to roll dice.

Damage formulas meaning: Base Damage plus Bonus vs Unit Type minus target Armor. That's the formula SC2 uses.

I have not done any balancing yet, as I have not decided on a final mechanic.

X3M
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Excellent choice for the SC2

Excellent choice for the SC2 formula. I support you on that one. That one is easy to understand and fits a lot of other games too. You could apply this in a MTG style. Where you need to have enough points to destroy a certain opponent. That is within 3 seconds once trained enough.
However, if you want to balance, you should start with this. Before you set up the economics.
Your economy could be to slow or to fast. You need to know how fast your combat goes. Then you adjust your economics to it.

My game for example could have any speed of economics. But the strategy in my game completely changes at the given income speeds.
To fast, and you go for specialists only.
Just fast, and the big guns come out first. Then the specialists.
Normal speed is perfect balanced at first glance, but players will get the medium units out first. Perhaps some annoying ones. But afterwards mostly the big guns and the small units.
Slow wants you to get out the annoying fast units first. And cripple the economy of your enemy before they get the big guns.
And very slow forces you to simply go the small units only. Forcing you to stay put until you get to a point that you could have some specialists or whatever you need.

I decided to allow some sort of build up of economics. Where I start at slow and end at fast. That way all aspects come into play. But that fits my game. The question is, how does it fit yours?

Is there any game that you would like to "sort of" copy? I mean the style, the theme, the feel of the game?
Is it SC2? Because then I can try to think in that style and give suggestions if needed.

Ow, and the RTS thing. I spend over 10 years thinking about getting it real time. Eventually all my board game and card game versions ended up being turn based. Except for 1. But that one is boring :D. No strategy.
The 2 ways I use to get some RTS is to allow players to cut in when an enemy moves through their territory. (You need to balance on that one too) And have random turn order.

Kroz1776
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Woah!

I just tried to imagine a true RTS board game. Oh my goodness it would be so much havok! Actually having to move each of your workers to grab resources and then put them into your pile, then needing to spend them to buy troops, then moving your troops around on the board to try and kill the enemy. Oh wow, that would be one intense game to watch. Calculating dmg would be insane in a game like that.

X3M
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If done right, it would only

If done right, it would only take time.

Although, doing this in RTS style, that would be havoc indeed.

Back to turn based:
Resources can be done in different ways then just moving your workers around.
Filling a path with the required workers (one line if they hand over the resources, double line if they move back and fort). Then moving resource counters from the resource over these workers to home. And once home, the link is complete. You have an automatic income.
Another way is just having workers at the resources or a structure there. And saying that that counts as income.

zedword
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Kroz1776 wrote:I just tried

Kroz1776 wrote:
I just tried to imagine a true RTS board game. Oh my goodness it would be so much havok! Actually having to move each of your workers to grab resources and then put them into your pile, then needing to spend them to buy troops, then moving your troops around on the board to try and kill the enemy. Oh wow, that would be one intense game to watch. Calculating dmg would be insane in a game like that.

Kroz,

I am not trying to perfectly emulate an RTS for the reasons you just mentioned. Resources are gathered by rolling dice, and spending or losing them (some special structures let you "bank" a dice or alter the value of a dice). Your workers are represented by the sand timers. When the sand runs out, they complete their task. Still playtesting length of timers and number of workers/timerrs per player.

Troop deployment is handled on an abstract board by placing unit cards face down in squads of 1-3. Combat is resolved instantly by revealing squads, comparing values, resolving. Damage tracking is handled by card orientation (rotate card 90 degrees for each point of damage, so a max of 4hp).

It is designed to be played in 20-30 minutes

Kroz1776
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Hourglasses! *walks backwards cryptically*

zedword wrote:
Kroz,

I am not trying to perfectly emulate an RTS for the reasons you just mentioned. Resources are gathered by rolling dice, and spending or losing them (some special structures let you "bank" a dice or alter the value of a dice). Your workers are represented by the sand timers. When the sand runs out, they complete their task. Still playtesting length of timers and number of workers/timerrs per player.

Troop deployment is handled on an abstract board by placing unit cards face down in squads of 1-3. Combat is resolved instantly by revealing squads, comparing values, resolving. Damage tracking is handled by card orientation (rotate card 90 degrees for each point of damage, so a max of 4hp).

It is designed to be played in 20-30 minutes

Woah there cowboy,

I wasn't insinuating that you were trying to create said environment. I was only envisioning what one would be like for the entertainment of all the board members. The sand timer idea is an awesome if I do say so myself. The game is almost a psuedo worker placement game/strategy game.

A little off topic, but is there a real time worker placement game?

zedword
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Kroz, I wasn't insulted by

Kroz,

I wasn't insulted by your reply :) Just clarifying. Sorry if my tone came off wrong- I am on break at work and trying to type our replies fast.

After my "Eureka!" moment of RT mechanics with Sand Timers, BGG and google told me I wasn't the first- Space Dealer, Witty Chronos and Chronos Conquest all had the idea before me.

zedword
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X3M wrote:If done right, it

X3M wrote:
If done right, it would only take time.

Although, doing this in RTS style, that would be havoc indeed.

Back to turn based:
Resources can be done in different ways then just moving your workers around.
Filling a path with the required workers (one line if they hand over the resources, double line if they move back and fort). Then moving resource counters from the resource over these workers to home. And once home, the link is complete. You have an automatic income.
Another way is just having workers at the resources or a structure there. And saying that that counts as income.

The "bucket brigade" of workers was in my original concept. I ended up going to the latter method you describe- every turn of the sand timer, you can roll 1 resource die per resource node controlled.

X3M
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Sand timers for

Sand timers for workers/income. That idea is actually awesome. I tried to do combat with the sand timers first. Silly me.

Although, are you using 1 timer for all players? Or does each player have a timer?
How do players check on each other income?

Does a timer also determine when something is finished building?

Kroz1776
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Worker Placement

I think he means the sandtimers ARE the workers. You place sandtimers out as workers and when the sand runs out your worker is done.

zedword
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Kroz1776 wrote:I think he

Kroz1776 wrote:
I think he means the sandtimers ARE the workers. You place sandtimers out as workers and when the sand runs out your worker is done.

This.

Same mechanic for harvesting, tech research, building construction and unit training. Toying with simpliufying number of timers per player.

Kroz1776
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Timers =/= Workers

zedword wrote:
Kroz1776 wrote:
I think he means the sandtimers ARE the workers. You place sandtimers out as workers and when the sand runs out your worker is done.

This.

Same mechanic for harvesting, tech research, building construction and unit training. Toying with simpliufying number of timers per player.

A way to reduce the number of timers, would be to have a timer for each task or building. Then you must allocate workers to each. Depending on how many workers you have collecting resources, when the one timer is up, you get to roll that many dice. This simplifies how many timers you have, and yet you get to keep the addition of workers. (Heck if you wanted to add some theme to it you can make the spots that hold the resource collecters into a nice little bucket line, like RTS games, and then you have your max amount of resource collectors is when the line is full.)

That way you're only flipping at most 10 (at most now) different timers.

Then when the enemy does a raid on your workers, you actually have some little figures (or cubes if you want) to have die!

questccg
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One idea

X3M wrote:
Yes!
Me!
I attempted!
I failllllled! At making it Real Time.

Why all the fuss about REAL-TIME in a board game? I mean board games were designed to be TURN-BASED... Heck even the MOST popular strategy Video Games like Final Fantasy are turn-based (and those are really, really popular).

Here is one idea about RTS: limit the number of troops to a manageable size. If you only have like 3-5 units, it is more likely you can create a real-time combat for such a SMALL pool of units. Too many units and you can forget any real-time gameplay.

That's my only opinion...

Kroz1776
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questccg wrote:X3M

questccg wrote:
X3M wrote:
Yes!
Me!
I attempted!
I failllllled! At making it Real Time.

Why all the fuss about REAL-TIME in a board game? I mean board games were designed to be TURN-BASED... Heck even the MOST popular strategy Video Games like Final Fantasy are turn-based (and those are really, really popular).

Here is one idea about RTS: limit the number of troops to a manageable size. If you only have like 3-5 units, it is more likely you can create a real-time combat for such a SMALL pool of units. Too many units and you can forget any real-time gameplay.

That's my only opinion...

I agree. You'll need your forces to be small enough to be manageable, but large enough to give you variety.

I also agree to an extent about the first part. Final fantasy while very popular, isn't the most popular game out there. Here is where turn based games beat out RTS games and why I love them. They let you employ strategy no matter how slow of a thinker you are. Often times, RTS games come down to who can tap their fingers on the mouse faster than the other. (This is why I only play the custom level starcraft games on multiplayer. Those are fun no matter what)

BUT, I think you're idea about the hourglass timers working well in helping minimize confusion and helping to bring the game more centered around the battle.

questccg
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As promised

Kroz1776 wrote:
BUT, I think you're idea about the hourglass timers working well in helping minimize confusion and helping to bring the game more centered around the battle.

Maybe if you created a HYBRID of Turn-based and Real-Time combat that might more feasible. Some options could be:

  1. Use a sand time to limit the amount of time a player has to move his units.
  2. Use a sand time to limit the amount of thinking a player can do.

So the first option is straighforward, player take TURNS but each turn is limited to a certain amount of time. Option #2 is a little bit different in that player are given a certain amount of time to think about how they move the units AND THEN they get to move the units.

I think option #1 would be the more common approach. This combines "thinking" and "moving". The REAL-TIME component is the SAND TIMER which allows a player a specific amount of time to move his units. This is a hybrid between real-time and turn-based movement...

Picture #2 as being a game of competitive CHESS: each player takes turns but turns are timed... Each player has a limited amount of time to determine the best possible moves for his troops.

I don't think I explained option #2 correctly... It's hard to explain, still not sure if it can be done... But basically it would be like PRE-PROGRAMMING your units and their movement... You could say that a unit A will move 3 spaces forwards, then turn to the right and be ready to battle any opposing unit nearby.

But again this would be HARD to do if you have more than 3-5 units... 5 might be the MAX, 3 is probably more acceptable for a "pre-programmed" scenario...

You would probably need to use Action Points (APs) for the pre-programming aspect and then maybe wait for the "Combat Phase" (as being different than the movement phase).

OneWheelSam
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Secret Decisions

I don't know if its useful, but to cross the gap between Real Time and Turns, I have a very successful 'simultaneous' turn system for my joust game. It's all monitored by each player recording a number of decisions that will effect the next round.

So for example, half way up the charge, both players decide where they will aim to hit, how fast they will try to go, any skills /cheats to apply etc. - these are quickly recorded and then declared and carried out. Once both players are practiced, it becomes really smooth and quick - probably not more than 10 seconds if your using a pre-agreed shorthand as well.

Just an idea!

zedword
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questccg wrote: Why all the

questccg wrote:

Why all the fuss about REAL-TIME in a board game? I mean board games were designed to be TURN-BASED...

There are plenty of great turn-based strategy board games. I enjoy real time games such as Falling, Space Alert and Space Cadets. I want to design a game I woul enjoy. Plus my son is obsessed with Starcraft 2 and I wanted to design a game he would enjoy.

And besides that, there is the challenge of it :-)

zedword
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Kroz1776 wrote:BUT, I think

Kroz1776 wrote:
BUT, I think you're idea about the hourglass timers working well in helping minimize confusion and helping to bring the game more centered around the battle.

I am actually designing combat last because ii didn't want the game to be centered around just battles. Economy, base building and tech are equally important. I need a combat system that allows both strategic and tactical decisions, but only take up 25% of the players time/attentiion. The board is rather abstracted, so it will not be a "tactical minis" game, and squads will be made of up to 3 units max right now to keep it manageable.

zedword
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questccg wrote: Maybe if you

questccg wrote:

Maybe if you created a HYBRID of Turn-based and Real-Time combat that might more feasible.

The Ares Project already did this, rather well. Simultaneous base building with cards and a clever "play a card face down as a resource" mechanic. When one player declares an attack, the real time building phase "pauses" as players spend their resources to build units and engage in turn based combat.

I'm looking for my combat to be easy to resolve and not necessary to "pause" other activities to engage.

zedword
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I want to thank everyone who

I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this thread so far :-)

X3M
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OneWheelSam wrote:I don't

OneWheelSam wrote:
I don't know if its useful, but to cross the gap between Real Time and Turns, I have a very successful 'simultaneous' turn system for my joust game. It's all monitored by each player recording a number of decisions that will effect the next round.

So for example, half way up the charge, both players decide where they will aim to hit, how fast they will try to go, any skills /cheats to apply etc. - these are quickly recorded and then declared and carried out. Once both players are practiced, it becomes really smooth and quick - probably not more than 10 seconds if your using a pre-agreed shorthand as well.

Just an idea!


Where I live, that is called STS: Same Time Strategy.
Every player, plays at the same time. But it is still turn based. Not time based.
And I prefer this one above RTS board games or separate turns. Since you have all the time to think about your strategy. But still play at the same time too.

However, you need to think of a way where all players decide. And all decisions are revealed at the same time.
No problem if you do only cards. But on a board with a lot of regions, you need to point out the regions as well. That is the only reason why I even discarded the STS system. I want big and random maps. However, if you keep things small and only on 1 map. You might pull it of with an STS.

Ow, and the RTS board game. Several people back then asked me if it was possible. But that was back then. I never said that I am still attempting.

Kroz1776
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Cubes man, CUBES!!! ;)

*In best Obi-Wan-Kenobi voice* Use the cubes zedword!

What did you think though of using the hourglasses for each task vs. each worker?

zedword
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Kroz1776 wrote:*In best

Kroz1776 wrote:
*In best Obi-Wan-Kenobi voice* Use the cubes zedword!

What did you think though of using the hourglasses for each task vs. each worker?

That's the direction I ended up heading to reduce the number of timers. When the "harvest" timer runs out, roll 1 dice for every resource node controlled. Similar for building construction, tech research and unit training.

I originally designed the game and map to be a very literal translation of an RTS and was using a "bucket brigade" for the supply chain, but decided to cut it for this iteration.

Tbone
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Choices choices choices...

I have a mechanic that works pretty well with RTS...

The game consists of two types of turns: domestic based turns (you building buildings, units, upgrading etc.) and field based turns (moving units and attacking)

During the domestic turn all players go at the same time, picking up a certain amount of cards (the amount that their Supply allows) and putting them in piles such as money, research points, resources, etc. then once everyone is done putting their cards down you move to field based turns, which of course will only be used if there are actually units on the field.

The way you would control turns is by whoever has the most action points (another pile you choose to put a card) then continue clockwise.
A person could use however many actions per turn or if you're picky have a limit. Once you get to a player who doesn't have anymore actions, you go back to the domestic turns-- even if there are still players with actions, it matters if it gets to a player who doesn't have any, so people aren't just sitting and watching battles go on.

Each unit could have an attack, defense, and health which could be expressed through action cards. If you want to use a cards attack, put an attack point on a card during your domestic turn and them use an action point to actually attack a card...

If the attack is higher than the health, the card dies.

The defense points would just subtract attack points and would be less bountiful in card amount (since it can be pretty power)

kos
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The challenge of it is the fun of it

zedword wrote:
And besides that, there is the challenge of it :-)

This.

Also, I second the thought that the sand timers is an interesting concept. I guess you won't know until playtesting whether it really works, but good on you for trying something different.

Have you thought about using really short timers for combat? I move a unit (or stack of units) into combat with one of yours, and flip a 15 second timer. Both of us can keep bringing in reinforcements or playing other modifiers to affect the combat, and then when the timer expires we pause the game, resolve the battle results, and then continue. This system would involve a brief pause for resolution, which is not ideal, but would allow a greater range of variables to affect the outcome.

Keep up the good work, and I hope you get a system that you find fun to play.

Regards,
kos

Ryha2000
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I have a real time strategy

I have a real time strategy game with worker placement, PvE and PvP mechanics in development. I think it works well :)

It's called Fall of the Last City.

Here is the site: www.fallofthelastcity.com

There is a trailer for the game on the site as well as the rules and photos and a TON of development documentation :)

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